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{Adapted from the Preface to the German Edition.) 

The following correspondence between Johannes 
Brahms and Heinrich and Elisabet von Herzogen- 
berg extends over a period of twenty-one years (1876- 
1897), and shows the gradual ripening into intimacy of 
a friendship the seed of which was laid some ten or 
twelve years earlier in Vienna, where Brahms had 
established himself in 1862. 

Heinrich Picot de Peccaduc, Freiherr von Herzo- 
genberg (b. at Graz, June 10, 1843), son of August 
Peter von Herzogenberg, an Austrian Court official, 
was descended from an old French noble family which 
had settled in Austria, taking the name Herzogenberg 
as the German form of Peccaduc. In 1862 he gave up 
his law studies and came to Vienna to study music 
under Otto Dessoff, director of the Opera and the 
Philharmonic concerts, and professor at the Conserva- 
torium. His talents were of a wide order, and his 
tendency was to dabble in all the arts; but he soon 
recognized the necessity of concentrating his energies 
on one subject, and realized that in choosing music he 
would be able to turn to good account all the general 
culture he had acquired. In the same year (1862) 
Brahms left his birthplace, Hamburg, and came to 
live in Vienna. In him Herzogenberg promptly 
recognized his ideal. They probably became person- 


ally acquainted at Dessoff's house, in 1863 or 1864, 
where Brahms was a privileged visitor. Herzogen- 
berg had up to that time been strongly influenced 
by, first, Schumann, then Wagner and the New 
German school. He was now convinced that he was 
on the wrong path, and set himself with the utmost 
deliberation to conquer his native exuberance, and to 
shake off the effect of these influences by a severe 
course of theoretical study, taking Bach as his model. 
There is no doubt that his compositions lost in 
spontaneity and imagination in consequence, for his 
ruthless suppression of the natural instincts he had 
learned to mistrust made him almost a slave to form 
and technique. But his oratorios and the Church 
music to which, in later years, he chiefly devoted him- 
self bear unmistakable traces of the Catholicism which 
was in his blood and had been fostered by his educa- 
tion at a Jesuit college, in spite of the fact that they 
were written strictly for performance in Protestant 
churches ; and as these are the results on which his 
present fame rests and by which a future generation 
will judge him, it would seem a matter for gratitude 
that his system of self-repression was not entirely 
successful. Whether his whole attitude was a mis- 
take or not, his long struggle with his own tempera- 
ment was nothing short of heroic, and his unselfish, 
unwavering devotion to Brahms shows the natural 
sweetness of a nature modest almost to excess. In 
reading the letters, we realize what an occasional 
word of encouragement from his idol would have 
meant to him, and did mean, on the few occasions 
when Brahms was able to say that anything had 
pleased him. His respect for Herzogenberg's musical 
knowledge was most genuine, and he is said to have 


exclaimed on one occasion : ' Herzogenberg knows 
more than all the rest of us put together.' 

Herzogenberg's studies with Dessoff ended in 1864. 
On November 26, 1868, after a long courtship, he 
married Elisabet, youngest child of Freiherr Bodo 
Albrecht von Stockhausen — whose full title ran: Herr 
auf Lewenhagen, Imbsen, Niedemjesa, Stane, Her- 
mannsrode — at that time Ambassador at the Court 
of Vienna, a descendant of an ancient noble family 
of Hesse mentioned in the following of Duke Otto of 
Bavaria as early as 1070. 

Elisabet von Stockhausen was born in Paris on 
April 13, 1847. li^ 1853 her father exchanged from 
Paris (where he had been able to devote considerable 
time to music, being, indeed, a pupil of Chopin) to 
Vienna. His wife, Klothilde Annette {nee Grafin von 
Baudissin), made literature her chief study, and to her 
Elisabet owed not only her beauty and charm, but her 
quick intelligence and remarkable powers of penetra- 
tion, while her great musical talent was inherited 
from her father. The home life was a very happy 
one. Freiherr von Stockhausen was a religious man 
and a strict Protestant, and the children were piously 
brought up, besides receiving every educational ad- 
vantage. The two sisters (Julie, the elder, was born 
in Paris on February 25, 1842) were familiar figures in 
Viennese society, and particularly in the concert-rooms 
and theatres, in the middle of the 'sixties. Elisabet's 
musical studies were made under Dirzka, an organist, 
and later under Julius Epstein, at that time the principal 
pianist and teacher in Vienna. Her progress was all 
that could be desired. She had a wonderful memory, 
fluent natural technique, a delicate touch, a quick grasp 
of her subject and a true musician's temperament. 


Brahms was at this stage of his career obliged to 
give lessons, to eke out a slender income of which the 
only assured item was his small salary as conductor 
of the Singakademie. A new pupil was consequently 
a matter of some importance, and he willingly under- 
took to give Elisabet von Stockhausen some piano 
lessons. After a very short time, however, he asked 
to be released from the engagement, the reason given 
being that Epstein must necessarily feel injured at 
being supplanted, and with justice. In vain was it 
represented to him that Epstein still taught the elder 
sister Julie, and had besides more pupils than he knew 
what to do with. Brahms persisted in his decision, 
and the lessons ceased abruptly. 

The young married couple first settled at Graz, but 
removed to Leipzig in 1872, where they found more 
scope. Here Herzogenberg came more and more 
under the influence of Bach. On January 31, 1875, 
in conjunction with Alfred Volkland, Philipp Spitta, 
and Franz von Holstein, he founded the Leipzig Bach- 
verein, and shortly after became president. The post 
brought him little beside honour ; for although his 
salary was doubled with great regularity at each 
annual meeting, he received the same amount in 
the last year of his presidency as the first. * Let 
arithmeticians solve the problem !' says a humorous 
chronicler of the society's doings. His wife rendered 
invaluable aid by rallying the lazier members of the 
chorus, encouraging the disheartened ones and leading 
the sopranos herself 

Once Herzogenberg had established a footing in 
Leipzig, his thoughts turned to a scheme for increasing 
the popularity of Brahms's music in that town. Some 
signs of improvement had already been felt. The 


D minor concerto, played by Frau Clara Schumann 
in 1873, had not been hissed, as on the occasion of 
its first performance in 1859, while a performance of 
the German Requiem at about the same time had to 
a certain extent opened the eyes of the Leipzigers. 
The enthusiasm with which his works were being 
received in other places was also beginning to take 
effect. Altogether the time seemed ripe for a great 
effort, and the little group of Brahms's admirers, with 
Herzogenberg at their head, joined with Riedel and 
the Gewandhaus committee in arranging a * Brahms 
week.' Brahms accepted their invitation, though with 
some reluctance, and arrived at Leipzig on January 29, 


The week's programme included an evening given 
by a branch of the Allgememe Deutsche Musikverein, 
a matinee of chamber-music at the Gewandhaus, 
at which Brahms played, a performance of Rinaldo 
conducted by him, and an extra concert given at the 
Gewandhaus, at which the orchestral Variations on a 
Haydn Theme, Op. 56, the Rhapsodie for contralto 
solo, men's chorus and orchestra. Op. 53, and three 
Htmgarian Dances in manuscript, figured as novelties, 
while Brahms and Reinecke played a dozen of the 
Liebeslieder duets. Op. 52. The inaugurators of the 
scheme had every reason to be satisfied with the 
result. Brahms was the hero of the hour, his social 
success being hardly less marked than his public 
triumphs. It was on this occasion that the Herzogen- 
bergs were drawn more closely to him. Elisabet 
wrote to her friend in Vienna, Frau Bertha Faber: 
'I must tell you how much we liked your Johannes 
this time. He was not like the same person. . . . 
So many people suffer shipwreck on that dangerous 


rock called Fame ; but we all felt that it had mellowed 
him, and made him kinder and more tolerant. He 
does not wear a halo of infallibility a la Richard 
Wagner, but has a quiet air of having achieved what 
he set out to accomplish, and is content to live and let 
live.' Three years later, when Brahms again visited 
Leipzig, he stayed with the Herzogenbergs, and the 
course of their friendship from that time onwards is 
traced in the letters. 

Elisabet's death at San Remo on January 7, 1892, 
from heart disease, was a heavy blow, not only to 
her husband, but to Brahms, who had come to rely 
on her sympathetic judgment and absolutely frank 
criticism. Her personality seems to have exercised 
an unfailing charm on everyone with whom she came 
in contact. She had beauty, nobility of character, 
womanly tenderness, a passionate love of truth and 
justice, the courage of her opinions — every good thing, 
in fact, but health. Never strong, she overtaxed 
herself by nursing her husband through a long illness, 
and the strain told on her weak heart. After her 
death, Herzogenberg shut himself up in the house he 
had finished building just too late for his wife to set 
foot in it, and buried himself in work. His Totenfeier^ 
a sacred cantata, is a beautiful monument to her 
memory. His great grief seems to have brought out 
the best in him, and his finest work, including the 
three great oratorios — Die Geburt Christi^ Op. 90; the 
Passion Music, Op. 93 ; and the Erntcfeier, Op. 104 — 
was written in these last years of his life. As time 
went on he began to collect his friends about him 
again, and every year saw a group of fellow-artists 
and musicians assembled at the little house, Zum 
Abendrot, on Lake Constance. He died at Wiesbaden 


on October 9, 1900, having survived his wife by eight, 
and Brahms by three, years. 


In May, 1891, Brahms addressed to his publisher, 
Fritz Simrock, a document which he described as his 
last will. It was, however, too hastily drafted to 
fulfil legal requirements, and was subsequently de- 
clared invalid. In it Brahms ordered that all letters 
found in his house after his death were to be destroyed 
without reservation. But Dr. Josef Reitze, of Vienna, 
who became his executor, concluded that the will had 
been drawn up in a moment of irritation, and was 
not to be taken too literally. He therefore made a 
distinction, in sorting out the papers, between those 
of public interest and those of a private nature, placing 
the decision as to the advisability of publishing the 
present correspondence in the hands of Dr. Adolf 
Wach, of Leipzig, who had been an intimate friend 
of the three people concerned. Fraulein Helene 
Hauptmann, the possessor of the original letters from 
Brahms to the two Herzogenbergs, came forward with 
eagerness to help with the work ; and thanks are also 
due to Herr Edmund Astor, Herzogenberg's Leipzig 
publisher, Herr Heinrich Buck, librarian to H.R.H. 
the Duke of Cumberland at Gmunden, Professor 
Julius Epstein, Frau Bertha Faber and Dr. Eusebius 
Mandyczewski, keeper of the archives of the Gesell- 
schaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. 

The dates of the letters, when supplied by the 
editor, have been set in square brackets. Brahms 
seldom dated his letters, and the postmarks or, failing 
these, the contents of the letters had to be consulted. 

H. B. 


Portrait of Brahms 

... Frontispiece 







Heinrich von Herzogenberg to 

Johannes Brahms 

Aug. I, 1876 



Elisabet von Herzogenbergto Brahms 

Aug. I, 1876 



Brahms to the Herzogenbergs 

Aug. 20, 1876 



Brahms to the Herzogenbergs 

Dec. 1876 ... 



Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Jan. 3, 1877 



Elisabet to Brahms 

Jan. 23, 1877 



Elisabet to Brahms 

Jan. 29, 1877 



Brahms to the Herzogenbergs 

Jan. 1877 ... 

. 14 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Feb. 15, 1877 

• 15 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Apr. 23, 1877 

.. 17 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Apr. 23, 1877 . 

. 18 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Apr. 27, 1877 

. 18 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Apr. 29, 1877 



Elisabet to Brahms 

May 5, 1877 



Brahms to Elisabet 

Nov. 13, 1877 

■ 24 


EHsabet to Brahms 

Nov. 15, 1877 

• 25 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Nov. 22, 1877 

• 27 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Dec. 3, 1877 

. 28 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Dec. 12, 1877 

• 30 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Dec. 13, 1877 

. 31 


The Herzogenbergs to Brahms 

Dec. 16, 1877 

• 32 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Dec. 26, 1877 

• 34 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Dec. 29, 1877 

• 35 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Jan. 16, 1878 

. 36 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Jan. 18, 1878 

• 37 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Jan. 19, 1878 

• 39 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Jan. 31, 1878 

• 41 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Feb. 3, 1878 

• 42 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Feb. 5, 1878 

• 44 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Feb. 19, 1878 

. 46 









Elisabet to Brahms 

Mar. I, 1878 

• 47 


Blisabet to Brahms 

Mar. 10, 1878 . 

• 49 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Mar. 13, 1878 

•• 52 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Mar., 1878 

•• 53 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Apr. 2>, 1^1^ 

.. 54 


Blisabet to Brahms 

Apr. 9, 1878 

• . 54 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

May 13, 1878 

. 56 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

May 17, 1878 

•• 57 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Aug. 10, 1878 

•• 59 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Atig. 12, 1878 

.. 60 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Aug. 15, 1878 . 

.. 61 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Sept. 7, 1878 

.. 62 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Sept. 12, 1878 . 

.. 63 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Sept. 14, 1878 

.. 65 


The Herzogenbergs to Brahms 

Oct. 4, 1878 



Elisabet to Brahms 

Oct. 18, 1878 

. 67 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Nov. 17, 1878 

. 68 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Nov., 1878 

. 69 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Dec. 13, 1878 

• 69 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Dec. 15, 1878 

• 71 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Dec. 15, 1878 

• 73 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Dec. 21, 1878 

• 74 


The Herzogenbergs to Brahms 

Dec. 23, 1878 

• 75 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Dec. 29, 1878 

. 76 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Jan., 1879 ... 

. 76 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Apr. 13, 1879 ■• 

. 78 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Apr. 15, 1879 . 

• 79 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Apr. 21, 1879 

. 79 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Apr. 29, 1879 

. 82 


Elisabet to Brahms 

May 6, 1879 

. 84 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

July 2^, 1879 

. 85 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

July 2,1, 1879 

. 86 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Aug. 2. 1879 

. 87 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Nov. 24, 1879 

. 87 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Nov., 1879 

• 90 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Nov. 28, 1879 



Elisabet to Brahms 

Dec. I, 1879 

• 93 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Feb. 4, 1880 

• 94 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Feb. 14, 1880 

• 97 


Brahms to Elisabet 




Elisabet to Brahms 

May 2,, 1880 

• 99 


Elisabet to Brahms 

July II, 1880 

. 102 


Brahms to Elisabet 

July 14, 1880 

. 105 


Elisabet to Brahms 

July 23, 1880 

. 106 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Nov. 25, 1880 

. no 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Nov. 26, 1880 

. Ill 








Elisabet to Brahms 

Dec. 14, 1880 



Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Dec. 24, 1880 



Blisabet to Brahms 

Dec. 28, 1880 

, 114 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Jan., 1881 

, 117 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Feb., 1881 

. 119 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Feb. 24, 1881 

, 120 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Mar. 2, 1881 

. 122 


Elisabet to Brahms 

B'lar. 6, 1881 

, 122 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Mar. 27, 1881 

. 124 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Apr., 1881 

. 128 


Elisabet to Brahms 

July z^ 1881 

. 129 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

//^/jj/ 5, 1881 

• 133 


Brahms to Elisabet 

July*], 1881 

. 133 


Elisabet to Brahms 

July 10, t88i 

• 134 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Oct. I, 1881 

. 136 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Oct., 1881 

. 137 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Oct. 28-29, 1881 .. 

. 137 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Nov. 2, 1881 

. 141 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Nov. 14, 1881 

. 142 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Nov. 14, 1881 

• 144 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Nov., 1881 

• 145 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Nov. 18, 1881 .. 

. 146 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Dec. 26, 1881 

,. 146 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Jan. 3, 1882 

.. 147 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Mar. II, 1882 

.. 148 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Mar. 13, 1882 

.. 149 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Mar. 15, 1882 

,. 149 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Mar. 18, 1882 . 

.. 153 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Mar. 21, 1882 

.. 153 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Mar. 25, 1882 

.. 154 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Apr. 6, 1882 

.. 155 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Apr., 1882 

.. 157 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Apr. 26, 1882 

.. 157 


Brahms to Elisabet 

May 15, 1882 

.. 159 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Bfay 18, 1882 

.. 160 


Elisabet to Brahms 

July 13, 1882 

.. 161 


Elisabet to Brahms 

July 24, 1882 

.. 163 


Brahms to Elisabet 

July 1'^, T882 

.. 167 


Elisabet to Brahms 

Aug. 6, 1882 

.. 167 


Brahms to Elisabet 

AiLg. 8, 1882 

•• 173 


Brahms to Elisabet 

[Autumn, 1882] . 

- 175 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Dec. 29, 1882 

.. 175 


Brahms to Elisabet 

Apr. 15, 1883 . 

.. 176 


Elisabet to Brahms 

May^, 1883 

... 176 


Brahms to Elisabet 

May^, 1883 

.. 179 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

May 20, 1883 

,.. 180 



123. Herzogenberg to Brahms Oct. 1,1883 ••• i^o 

124. Brahms to Herzogenberg C^/. 3, 1883 ... 182 

125. Elisabet to Brahms Nov. 24, 1883 ... 182 

126. Brahms to Elisabet iVbz^. 29, 1883 ... 185 

127. Brahms to Elisabet Z?^<r. 21, 1883 ... 186 

128. Elisabet to Brahms y««. 6, 1884 ... 187 

129. Brahms to Herzogenberg Jan. 11, 1884 ... 190 

130. Herzogenberg to Brahms /a«. 14, 1884 ... 190 

131. Elisabet to Brahms Feb. 11, i^^J^ ... 192 

132. Herzogenberg to Brahms Mar. 24, 1S84. ... 193 

133. Brahms to Herzogenberg Mar. 28, 1884 ... 194 

134. Elisabet to Brahms ^/r. 10, 1884 ... 195 

135. Brahms to Elisabet Apr. 24, 1884 ... 197 

136. Herzogenberg to Brahms Apr. 25, 1884 ... 198 

137. Elisabet to Brahms May s, 1884 ... 200 

138. Brahms to Elisabet May 8, 1884 ... 201 

139. Elisabet to Brahms Sept. 13, 1884 ... 202 

140. Brahms to Elisabet Oct., 1884 205 

141. Brahms to Herzogenberg C><:^. 21, 1884 ... 205 

142. Brahms to Herzogenberg Oct. 25, 1884 ... 206 

143. Elisabet to Brahms Oct. 26, 1884 ... 206 

144. Brahms to Herzogenberg iVi^z;. 18, 1884 ... 208 

145. Brahms to Herzogenberg A^^z;. 21, 1S84 ... 208 

146. Brahms to Herzogenberg Z>^^. i, 1884 ... 209 

147. Elisabet to Brahms Z:>^^. 4, 1884 ... 210 

148. Elisabet to Brahms Z?^^. 29, 1884 ... 212 

149. Brahms to Elisabet Jan., 1885 214 

150. Elisabet to Brahms Jan. 5, 1885 ... 215 

151. Elisabet to Brahms Jan. 11, 1885 ... 217 

152. Brahms to Elisabet Jan. 12, 1885 ... 220 

153. Elisabet to Brahms Jan. 14, 1885 ... 221 

154. Elisabet to Brahms Fed. 13, 1885 ... 222 

155. Brahms to Elisabet Apr. 25, 1885 ... 224 

156. Brahms to the Herzogenbergs ... May 6, 1885 ••• 225 

157. Brahms to Elisabet May ly, 1885 ... 226 

158. Elisabet to Brahms May 21 and 22, 1885 226 

159. Elisabet to Brahms A/ay 24, 188$ ... 232 

160. Brahms to Elisabet May 28, 1885 ... 232 

t6i. Elisabet to Brahms June 3, 1885 ... 233 

162. Brahms to Elisabet June 6, 1885 ... 236 

163. Elisabet to Brahms Aug: y, 188^ ... 237 

164. Brahms to Elisabet y^«^. 29, 1885 ... 238 

165. Elisabet to Brahms 6"^//. i, 1885 ... 239 

166. Brahms to Elisabet Sept. 4, i88s ... 240 

167. Elisabet to Brahms 5"^//. 6, 1885 ... 240 

168. Brahms to Herzogenberg 5^^A 30, 1S85 ... 242 



169. Klisabet to Brahms Sept. 31, 1885 ... 243 

170. Brahms to Elisabet 0^^.3,1885 ... 251 

171. Brahms to Elisabet Oct. 10, 1885 ... 252 

172. Brahms to Herzogeuberg O^/., 1885 253 

173. Elisabet to Herzogenberg Or/. 20, 1885 ... 254 

174. Brahms to Elisabet (9rA 22, 1885 ... 258 

175. Brahms to Herzogenberg Oct. 2/^, \2>%^ ... 259 

176. Elisabet to Brahms 0^^.30,1885 ... 260 

177. Herzogenberg to Brahms — 266 

178. Elisabet to Brahms A^(9z;. 4, 1885 ... 267 

179. Brahms to Herzogenberg Nov. ^, 1885 ... 269 

r8o. Elisabet to Brahms Z?^^. 2, 1885 ... 270 

181. Brahms to Elisabet Z>i?<:. 5, 1885 ... 273 

182. Brahms to Elisabet Jan. i, 1S86 ... 275 

183. Elisabet to Brahms Feb. '^, 1886 ... 275 

184. Brahms to Elisabet i^?^. 7, 1886 ... 280 

185. Brahms to Herzogenberg Feb. 24, 1886 ... 280 

186. Elisabet to Brahms /v<^. 26, 1886 ... 281 

187. Brahms to Elisabet /^^d. 28, 1886 ... 284 

188. Elisabet to Brahms .Mzr. 12, 1886 ... 285 

189. Brahms to Herzogenberg O^/., 1886 286 

190. Herzogenberg to Brahms 0^^.26,1886 ... 287 

191. Brahms to Herzogenberg O^A 28, 1886 ... 289 

192. Elisabet to Brahms Dec. 2, 1886 ... 289 

193. Brahms to Elisabet Dec. 22, 1886 ... 293 

194. Eli.sabet to Brahms /)ec. 28, 1S86 ... 295 

195. Brahms to Elisabet Dec. s^, 1886 ... 297 

196. Elisabet to Brahms Z?^^. 31, 1886 ... 297 

197. Brahms to Elisabet Jan.8, 1887 ... 299 

198. Elisabet to Brahms yia:^. 9 and 10, 1887 299 

199. Herzogenberg to Brahms Jan. % 188^ ... 302 

200. Brahms to Elisabet y<a;«. 15, 1887 ... 305 

20T. Elisabet to Brahms Ma7'. i, 1887 ... 306 

202. Brahms to Elisabet Mar., 188^ ... 308 

203. Brahms to Herzogenberg Apr., 188^ ... 310 

204. Elisabet to Brahms May 16, 188"] ... 311 

205. Brahms to Elisabet May 26, 188"] ... 313 

206. Brahms to Elisabet July 20, 188^ ... 314 

207. Brahms to Elisabet July 22,, 188"] ... 317 

208. Elisabet to Brahms July 2"] , 188^ ... 317 

209. Brahms to Herzogenberg Sept. 2$, l8>8^ .. 320 

210. Brahms to Elisabet Oct. 15, 1887 ... 320 

211. Elisabet to Brahms Oct. 18, 188^ ... 330 

212. Brahms to Elisabet Nov. ^, 1887 ... 322 

213. Brahms to Elisabet Dec. 16, 188"] ... 322 

214. Elisabet to Brahms Dec. 2,0, 188"] ... 323 




215. Brahms to Elisabet 

216. Brahms to Elisabet 

217. Brahms to Elisabet 

218. Elisabet to Brahms 





































Brahms to Elisabet 
Elisabet to Brahms 
Brahms to Elisabet 
Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Elisabet to Brahms 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Brahms to Elisabet 

Brahms to Herzogenberg 
Elisabet to Brahms 
Brahms to Elisabet 
Elisabet to Brahms 
Brahms to Herzogenberg 
Herzogenberg to Brahms 
Brahms to Herzogenberg 
Elisabet to Brahms 
Brahms to Herzogenberg 
Herzogenberg to Brahms 
Brahms to Herzogenberg 
Elisabet to Brahms 
Brahms to Herzogenberg 
Brahms to Elisabet 
Herzogenberg to Brahms 
Brahms to Herzogenberg 


Feb., 1888 325 

Feb. 15, 1888 ... 326 

Mar., 1888 ... 326 
Feb. 16 to Mar. 9, 

1888 327 

Mar. II, 1888 ... 335 

Mar. 25, 1888 ... 336 

Mar., 1888 ... 338 

Mar. 28, 1888 ... 339 

Apr. 22, 1888 ... 342 

June'^, 1888 ... 343 

June 12, 1888 ... 343 

Sept., 1888 ... 344 

Sept. 22, 1888 ... 345 

Oct., 1888 346 

Oct., 1888 347 

Oct. 13, 1888 ... 348 

Oct. 21, 1888 ... 351 

Oct. 28, 1888 ... 352 

Oct. 30, 1 888 ... 360 

Nov. 3, 1888 ... 364 

Nov. 6, 1888 ... 364 

Nov. 6, 1888 ... 366 

Nov. 8, 1888 ... 367 

Nov. 10, 1888 ... 369 

Nov. 10, 1888 ... 370 

Oct. 14, 18S8 ... 372 

May 14, 1889 ... 373 

May 23, 1889 ... 376 

June 2'^, 1889 ... 377 

/w/jV 29. 1889 ... 377 

Dec. 26, 1889 ... 378 

Dec. 29, 1889 ... 379 

Mar. 17, 1890 .., 379 

May 23, 1890 ... 382 

JimeS, 1890 ... 383 

June 14, 1890 ... 385 

Oct. 9, 1890 ... 386 

Oct. 27, 1890 ... 390 

Oct. 31, 1890 ... 391 

Dec, 1890 ... 392 

Dec. 16, 1890 ... 393 

Jan. 10, 1891 ... 397 

Feb., 1891 397 

Feb. 28, 1 89 1 ... 398 

Apr. 29, 1 89 1 ... 400 







Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Apr. 30, 1 891 

.. 401 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

May 2, 1891 

.. 402 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

May 10, 1891 

.. 402 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Jan., 1892 ... 

.. 403 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Fed. 2, 1892 

.. 404 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

3far. 6, 1892 

.. 405 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

3far. 19, 1892 

.. 405 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Mar. 12, 1892 

... 406 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

3Iar. 21, 1892 

... 407 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Apr. 5, iSgs 

... 409 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Fed. 14, 1894 

... 410 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Fed. 14, 1894 

,. 411 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Fed. 22, 1894 

... 412 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Jan. 30, 1895 

... 412 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Aug. 8, 1895 

... 413 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Aug. II, 1895 

... 414 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

June, 1896... 

... 415 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

July I, 1896 

... 416 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

July 15, 1896 

... 417 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

July 21, 1896 

... 418 


Brahms to Herzogenberg 

Sept. 15, 1896 

... 418 


Herzogenberg to Brahms 

Mar. 26, 1897 

... 418 



I. Heinrich von Hersogenberg to Johannes Brahms. 

AussEE, August I, 1876. 

My dear Herr Brahms, — I am sending you what I 
believe to be the first set of variations* ever written 
on a Brahms theme, thereby providing you with the 
nucleus of a collection of curios. To be first, for once, 
in anything was a great temptation, apart from that 
offered by your glorious theme. I have by no means 
exhausted its possibilities in my treatment, of which 
you will not, I hope, entirely disapprove. 

I was unable to ascertain before leaving Leipzig 
whether you had finally decided to incorporate your 
arrangement of the cantata, Christ lag in Todesbanden^ 
in our Bach-Verein publications. We should be 
delighted if you had leisure and inclination for it.f 
You know we have the whole pack at our heels, 

* Herzogenberg published his Variations on a Theme of Johannes 
Brahms for Pianoforte (two performers), as Op. 23, through Rieter- 
Biedermann. The theme is that of the song Mei Mutter mag mi net, 
from Op. 7. 

t The Leipzig Bach-Verein, instituted in 1874 by Von Herzogen- 
berg, Phihpp Spitta, Franz von Holstein, and Alfred Volkland, 
published, through Rieter-Biedermann, pianoforte scores, with a 
supplementary organ part, of Bach's sacred cantatas. For these 
adaptations, Volkland, Herzogenberg and Wiillner were responsible. 



and the closer we stick together, the sooner shall we 
silence them.* Also, if they still insist on dubbing 
Spitta an amateur,! and VolklandJ and myself in- 
capable enthusiasts, we could flourish your name in 
their faces. I would most willingly spare you the 
trouble of the pianoforte arrangement, § and submit it 
Lo you when finished. 

I am happily occupied in arranging the glorious 
Mass in F for our next concert. Last winter Volkland 
undertook the far from easy task of writing an organ 
part for the St. Matthew Passion-music. If only a good 
number of choral societies will take up the matter, we 
really hope to look back on some abiding results in 
the not too-distant future, always provided the firm of 
Rieter-Biedermann be not forced to bring the pubhca- 
tion to an untimely end ! If only our method obtains 
recognition, the rest of the enterprise does not matter. 

* Refers to a heated argument on the treatment of accompaniments 
to older choral works which was being carried on at the time between 
Robert Franz (Julius Schaeffer), Friedrich Chrysander, Spitta, 
Hermann Kretzschmar, and others, through the medium of news- 
paper articles and pamphlets. 

-f Philipp Spitta (1841-1894), noted Bach biographer, was until 
1875 Professor at the Nicolai Gymnasium, Leipzig. He was then 
appointed Professor of Musical History at Berlin University. 

% Alfred Volkland (1841-1905), Director of Music at Basel, holding 
an honorary degree from the University, was conductor of the 
Euterpe concerts at Leipzig until 1875. 

§ The arrangement of the cantata referred to was written by 
Brahms at the time when he conducted the Gesellschaft der Musik- 
freunde concerts in Vienna. He produced it there on March 23, 
1873, as a novelty for the Viennese public, but did not claim the 
credit of the arrangement. Georg Henschel writes in his diary at 
Riigen in 1876 : ' Brahms had the two first numbers of the Bach- 
Verein's edition of the cantatas beside him, and pointed out to me 
the unpractical setting. "A pianoforte score should be playable — 
written to suit the instrument," he said. " This is far more important 
than a strictly correct leading of all the parts." ' 


We lead a quiet, happy life here, out of reach of 
even the musical papers, with their reports from Bay- 
reuth.* I hope the island of Rtigen enjoys similar 
geographical advantages, and that Simrockf will 
shortly send us a voluminous package. J 

When you open my roll of music, you will think for 
the moment that you see one of your own — strangely 
unfamiliar — compositions ! Our good Astor§ obviously 
accepted the piece with the sole malicious intent of 
frightening Simrock out of his wits with the title-page. 
Of course it sells all the better to the shortsighted 
visitors at Fair-time, || for they lose their heads so 
completely at the sight of Johannes Brahms, printed 
large, that the little notice underneath quite escapes 
them. It amuses me, of course ; Astor too, I hope ; 
so please take it as a joke yourself. But on reflecting 
that you will probably glance inside, I cease to be 
amused — while for you the fun begins, possibly? 

With this grave query let me close, throwing myself 
on your mercy. — Believe me, yours very sincerely, 

Heinrich Herzogenberg. 

* The first performance of Wagner's Nibelungen-Ring was held 
at Bayreuth in the summer of 1876. 

f Fritz Simrock (1837-1901), Brahms's principal publisher. 

% Brahms went to the island of Riigen on June 15, settling in the 
village of Sassnitz, where he put the finishing touches to his Symphony 
in C minor. 

§ Edmund Astor, music publisher in Leipzig, son-in-law of 
J. Melchior Rieter-Biedermann, after whose death in 1876 he became 
head of the Winterthur firm, founded in 1849. 

II The fairs, which are held three times yearly at Leipzig, still 
attract such a number of strangers to the town that the better hotels 
double their prices during those periods. There is usually a large 
proportion of undesirables among the ' Fair visitors ' (Afessfremdc), 
and the designation is used somewhat contemptuously. — Tr. 

I — 2 


2. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Johannes Brahms. 

AussEE, August I, 1876.* 

Dear Herr Brahms, — Our friend Bertha t assures 
me that you sent us kind messages, and expressed, 
at the same time, a wish to see Heinrich's Variations 
on a Theme by Brahms. I am only too delighted 
to believe both her assertions. Heinrich did not 
want to bother you with the variations, thinking 
you must be so glad to hear nothing but the 
roar of the ocean and the lapping of the waves, 
that even printed, silent music must be unwelcome 
in your chosen solitary retreat. But your kindness in 
expressing the wish alters the case. I hope you will 
not entirely disapprove of the piece, but if it should 
have the misfortune to displease you, do not hesitate 
to say so. For ' as the hart panteth after the water- 
brooks,' so panteth Heinrich after honest criticism, 
be it condemnatory or flattering. 

I hope you are keeping real, real well at Sassnitz, 
both for your sake and for ours ; for the better you 
feel the more work you will do, and we obviously 
stand to gain by your diligence. 

I remember hearing that, at Sassnitz, they give you 
nothing to eat but pale grey beef and indescribable, 
wobbly puddings, made of starch and vanilla. But 
you, it is to be hoped, are indifferent to such things, t 

* It is evident that the Herzogenbergs wrote on the same day, 
unknown to each other, each sending Brahms a copy of the work. 

f Frau Bertha Faber, of Vienna, daughter of an evangeHcal pastor, 
Dr. Gustav Porubszky, and wife of Arthur Faber, had been a friend 
of Brahms since the time of the Hamburg Women's Choral Society 

% The writer permits herself a little irony here, as Brahms was 
known to be anything but indifferent to what he ate. 


The person who told me her own bitter experiences 
was reduced to living on eggs, which she boiled or 
fried in the privacy of her own room. I tell you 
this so that you may adopt the same measure if 
driven to extremes. We are better off here. There 
is char and salmon in plenty — though the prices are so 
exorbitant that we never have either ; on the other 
hand, cutlets and bacon-cakes are within our reach. 
Best of all, a certain B. F. of Vienna,"^ not unknown to 
you, sometimes sends us a wonderful meat-pudding 
for supper, and every time we go to see her she stuffs 
us with the unrivalled Aussee brand of Lchkuchen.\ 
I go very often in consequence, and we chatter, as 
only women can, about a thousand and one nothings. 
I feel hke an old woman beside Bertha, but we get on 
splendidly all the same. 

The poor woman has suffered much just now in the 
sudden death of her father J — a man as exceptional in 
the parental relationship as in every other respect ; 
but she bears up bravely for her mother's sake, and 
devotes herself wholly to the task of consolation. 

But how do I come to be writing you such a long 
letter? I hope you will not think it a liberty. If you 
do, please lay the blame on Bertha. 

Last of all, let me ask if the idea of visiting Leipzig 
again ever crosses your mind ? You did not have 
such a bad time before, and you know how many 
devoted friends you have here in spite of all the 
Philistines — bother them ! 

In case you do come again, I have a real favour to 
ask : that you should stop at the Herzogenbergs' 
instead of at Hotel Hauffe. I promise you a bed at 

* Fr^u Bertha Faber. f A rich spiced gingerbread. — Tr. 

X On July 17, 1876. 


least as good, much better coffee, no very large room 

but two decent-sized ones, a silken bed-cover, any 

number of ash-trays, and, above all, peace and quiet ; 

while, as a set-off against the gilt and stucco and all 

the glories of the Hauffe establishment, we would 

make you real comfortable, refrain from worrying 

you, and only make you realize the great pleasure 

you were giving us. Think it over ! We live in 

Humboldtstrasse now, exactly behind Legationsrat 

Keil — so nice and convenient for you when you pay 

your visits to the Gewandhaus directors.* 

But I must close, and that quickly. Good-bye, dear 

Herr Brahms. Give a kindly thought once in a 

way to 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

3. Brahms to Heinrich and Elisabet von 

Hamburg, August 20, 1876. 

My dear Friends, — Most sincerely do I thank you 
for the gift, I might almost say the advertisement, of 
your Variations. It is really most gratifying to find a 
song of one's own absorbing another person's thoughts 
so effectually. You must have some affection for the 
melody you choose for a theme, I take it, and in your 
case the affection was probably shared by two. 

But forgive me if my thanks begin, and my critical 
remarks end, sooner than you would like. How can I 
be disinterested, when, as I open the duet and play it 
in imagination, I have a distinct vision of a slender, 

* Brahms was known to detest ceremony in any form, and probably 
never paid a duty call in his life. 


golden-haired figure in blue velvet seated on my 
right ?* 

If I say any more I shall offend one or other of you. 

But I will really make a point of playing the varia- 
tions. Nothing is worse to read than a duet when the 
music is at all complicated. Then, when I have the 
pleasure of a chat with you again, should I have any- 
thing but praise to bestow, I will let you have my 
valuable opinion beforehand to bring you into the right 
frame of mind !t I might have something to say on the 
subject of variations in general. For instance, I could 
wish people would distinguish variations irom. fantasia- 
variationSj or whatever we may choose to call the 
greater number of modern writings in this form. I 
have a peculiar affection for the variation form, and 
consider that it offers great scope to our talents and 

Beethoven treats it with extraordinary severity, 
and rightly calls his variations ' alterations.' t All the 
later ones by Schumann, H., or Nottebohm§ are very 
different. I am, of course, objecting neither to the 
form nor the music. I only wish for some distinction 
in the name to denote the distinctive character of each. 

If I could enclose a few Sassnitz menus, your wife 
would be filled with surprise and envy ! We suffered 

* Brahms had often played duets with Frau von Herzogenberg 
during his previous stay at Leipzig. 

f Herzogenberg's work did not altogether please him. 

X 33 Veriinderungcn iiber eincn Walzer von A. Diabelli, Op. 120. 

§ Gustav Nottebohm (1817-1882), a scholarly musician in Vienna, 
compiler of the thematic catalogues of Beethoven's and Schubert's 
works, and author of Beethoveniana and Neue Beethoveniana, was held 
in great respect by Brahms for his wide historical and theoretical 
knowledge. The reference is to Nottebohm's Pianoforte Variations 
on a Theme by Bach, which Brahms had often played with the 


nothing on that score, and pianos were all too 

I am not drawn to an arrangement of the cantata ; 
it is so very difficult to adapt Bach for the pianoforte. 
Neither can I solve the problem : Is the arrangement 
intended for practical use in choral practices, etc., or 
for clever amateurs ? Rieter's attitude with regard 
to Peters * is incomprehensible to me. 

I have heard of the charming party assembled at 
Lucerne. It is very alluring. You will have heard, 
either from herself or from Herr Volkland, with what 
delight Frau Schumann f plays your Variations. 

Kindest remembrances to you both and to your 
neighbours of Lebkttchen fame. — Most sincerely 

y^^^^' JoH. Brahms. 

4. Brahms to the Herzogenhergs. 

[Vienna] December, 1876. 

My very dear Friends, — I am thoroughly ashamed 
of my clumsy breach of manners.! I had decided I 
ought not to presume on your kindness, yet my pen 
refused to write * no '; and now your kind reminder 
quite confuses me. 

But I shall arrive very, very early, and shall not leave 
until Saturday, you know. Also I fear your wife is 
counting on my having been chastened and hardened 
at Sassnitz, whereas the true conditions of Rugen 

* Brahms considered that Rieter-Biedermann's edition could not 
be profitable, in view of the existing, more practicable, Peter's edition. 
This proved to be the case, and only five cantatas were issued by 

t Clara Schumann (1819-1896), wife of the composer and famous 
pianist, whose Close friendship with Brahms dated from 1853. 

J He had not replied to their invitation. 


are quite unknown to her. However, absit omen ! 
Three days before the concert I begin to perspire 
and drink camomile tea; after the fiasco (at the 
Gewandhaus) attempts at suicide, and so on. You 
shall see the lengths to which an exasperated com- 
poser will go ! 

But forgive this nonsense. I have written too many 
letters to-day. My best thanks, and please send me a 
card with your number — in case ! — Sincerely yours, 
in haste, j Brahms. 

5. Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, January 3, 1877. 

My dear Herr Brahms, — We gathered from your 
letter, to our great joy, that you mean to try staying 
with us. You will at least be cosier and quieter in our 
well-guarded house, Humboldtstrasse 24, 2nd floor, 
than in any one of the hotels full of Fair visitors. 
Your rooms are so situated that you can easily refuse 
to receive, not only strangers, should their visits be 
inopportune, but also ourselves ; we beg you won't 
use this privilege too freely with respect to the latter, 
though. Please let us have a card with the date and 
hour of your arrival, and to say which way you are 
coming — by Dresden or Eger. When will Simrock 
publish the symphony ? Before the concert, I hope.* 

* Symphony No. i in C minor, Op. 68, published by Simrock in 
1877. Brahms arrived on January 14 for the final rehearsals of the 
symphony, which he conducted himself at the Gewandhaus on 
January 18. It was very favourably received. On the same occasion 
he conducted his orchestral Variaiions on a Theme of Haydn, and 
accompanied some of his own songs sung by Georg Henschel. Two 
days later he played the piano part of his Quartet in C minor, Op. 60, 
at the Gewandhaus Chamber-music Concert. 


Please come as soon as possible (at once, if you like) 
and stay as long as possible. 

If Frau Schumann stays with her friend, Frau 
Lepoc (Lepoque, Lepock ?), or with Frau Raimund 
Hartel,* she will be quite near us. The Fregest 
cannot put her up this time; we have discovered that 

And now excuse this feeble letter and this superfine 
notepaper. — In haste, always yours sincerely, 


6. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Johannes Brahms. 

Leipzig, January 23, 1877. 

My dear Friend, — It is really quite too tragic ! 
But that is always the way when you count too much 
on anything, as we did. Es war zu schbn gewesen^ es 

hat nicht sollen sein. % is probably thinking the 

same. They say, by the way, that he could not 
face the terrific strain of deciding whether the finale 
led to heaven or hell. 

Our first breakfast alone yesterday was a melancholy 
affair. The real good things of this life seem so much 
a matter of course when we have them that we feei 
unreasonably aggrieved when they are withdrawn. 
But we are grateful by moments, too, very grateful, 
and fully appreciate the fact that you were here, the 
manner of your being here, and the way you had of 

* Wife of the head of the firm Breitkopf and Hart eh 

f Dr. Frege's house at Leipzig was something of a centre for 

musicians (Mendelssohn and Schumann had been in the habit of 

going there). His wife Livia was a well-known singer. 

% A certain member of the Gewandhaus committee had protested 

volubly against the proposed repetition of the ;symphony at an early 



almost seeming to enjoy yourself here. That consoles 
me for many things. I am only too conscious of the 
many occasions when things went wrong. The con- 
viction rose several times that I was mad to ask you 
to come at all, you spoilt creature, with your mock- 
turtles, your Prater* manners, and your constitution 
ruined by every conceivable refinement of luxury. 
The impossible was always happening, but you only 
smiled, as if it were quite possible, and so relieved all 
your hostess's fear and trembling. Thank you for that, 
you dear man, and for everything else. Only tell 
yourself repeatedly what those days were to us, for 
that alone can give you pleasure as you look back, 
and will be some small reward for all the pleasure 
you gave us. 

And now tell me just this. Could you not go to 
Berlin now, to please Frau Schumann and others, and 
rest a little here on the way back?t We can't con- 
ceive of your going straight home to Vienna, and are 
counting so firmly on your passing through again, by 
some means, that your rooms are still untouched, and 
Heinrich does his writing at the standing-desk in my 
room. Minna seems possessed of the same idea, or 
else she would have been absorbed in a grand shifting 
and cleaning of everything available by now. 

And now good-bye. Keep what is called a kindly 
remembrance of us, and please have the symphony 
printed soon; for we are all symphony-sick, and weary 
of straining to grasp the beloved, elusive melodies. 

Kind remembrances from our adopted daughter.l 

Keep a little affection for 

The Faithful 

* The manners of the Austrian capital. — Tr. 

t After a performance of the symphony at Breslau. 

% Mathilde von Hartenthal, a clever amateur. 


7. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Johannes Brahms. 

[Leipzig] January 29, 1877. 

Dear Herr Brahms, — As Heinrich is buried in 
some work which must be finished, and as you were so 
kind as to ask for another letter, I am taking up my 
pen in his — Heinrich's — place. Although we were 
more or less prepared for the news on your card — how 
you must thank Providence for this invention of the 
post-office ! — it depressed us all the same, for we had 
cherished some hope of seeing you here again. It was 
like leaving a little side-door open, through which you 
slipped in and out until the 25th, when it went to with 
a bang. Your little blue room was invaded by a horrid 
sewing-woman. Heinrich went back to his study, and 
the old, dull routine set in. . . . 

Goldmark's rusticities* left us cheerfully unmoved, 
but pleased the general public very much. I turned 
quite faint in the garden scene, and was frightened to 
death in the trombone passage. This scene was called 
Bridal-Chorus on the programme, but no one realized 
the mistake ; indeed, the critics discussed it as such. 
Goldmark was quite satisfied with his success, at 
which we were very pleased. One can't help liking 
the man. 

Before I stop — which should in decency be soon, for 
you only wanted to hear about Goldmark — I want to 
tell you three things. (After a week spent in Leipzig, 
are you not in duty bound to take an interest in the 
local news ?) Well, poor old Wehnerf has had a 

* Karl Goldmark (b. 1830), Viennese composer. His symphony 
A Rustic Wedding was produced for the first time at the Gewandhaus 
on January 25, 1877. 

f Arnold Wehncr, formerly Director of Music at Gottingen 
University, and Conductor at the Schlosskirche, Hanover, was one 


slight stroke, which left him blind in one eye. The 
Brahms week, with all that drinking, did the mischief. 
He took cold, had indigestion, congestion of the blood, 
and finally this eye trouble. Hard lines, isn't it ? 
The poor old man sits in a darkened room, day after 
day, with two grey tom-cats for sole company, who 
climb up in turn to paw his face, while Pauline's 
shadow hovers about him. You will admit that this is 
a tragic ending, whatever his faults may have been. 
My second item of bad news is that poor old Hartel* 
is being sent to Mentone on account of a bronchial 
catarrh. His wife is quite beside herself, and goes 
with him to-morrow. 

My third has probably small interest for you, though 
all the more for me. The sketch you were so cruel as 
to tear up has been ingeniously pasted together, and 
looks all the more imposing — ^just like an old sword, 
covered with honourable scars, but quite serviceable. 
Indeed, I like it more than ever, now that I can feast 
my eyes on it again, after its — to me — inexplicable 
disappearance. Mathilde helped me with the ban- 
daging, and you are going to be ironed out some time 
to-day, and now left in peace.t 

Good-bye. Enjoy yourself Remember us to all, 
and don't forget your less fortunate friends for those 
around you now. Heinrich, his wife, their adopted 
daughter, Paddock t — all send greeting. 
Keep just a little affection for us, I beg. j tt 

of Brahms's silent opponents. He had at first been very well dis- 
posed towards him when at Hanover (see Kalbeck, Johannes Brahms, 

i- 353)- 

* Stadtrat Raimund Hartel. 

t Mathilde von Hartcnthal had made a pencil sketch of Brahms. 
% The dog. 


8. Brahms to the Herzogenhergs. 

[Vienna] January^ 1877. 

My good Friends, — It just happens that I have a 
sheet of paper at hand. It ought to be rose-coloured 
for shame, and ingratiating as an angel ; but, unfortu- 
nately, neither my letter-paper nor my face can look as 
sweet and kind as Frau Elisabet's — and that no 
matter how I may exert myself. Otherwise I would 
do it to-day ; for no one can have a keener desire to 
say real nice things. 

It was so delightful staying with you. The memory 
is still warm, and I feel I want to keep it snugly 
buttoned up for a long time. 

But these things are easier to express in music, 
and I therefore present this paper merely out of 
politeness to my hostess — an arm to take her in 
to supper. Afterwards I shall choose the most beau- 
tiful key and the most beautiful poem to write the 

So is still friendly, in spite of my behaviour 

and my letter ? Very bad for my morals ! A little 
wholesome severity might be desirable in other 
quarters, too. 

I am sorry about Wehner and Hartel. . . . 

I discovered at Breslau* that it is a great help if 
someone else takes my first rehearsal. That clever 
young Buthsf did it there admirably. I had only to 
take it up where he left it, and it went splendidly. 
The introduction to the last movement was quite 

* Brahms conducted his symphony at Bernhard Scholz's Breslau 
Orchestral Concerts on January 23, 1877. 

•f Julius Buths (b. 185 1), afterwards Director at Diisseldorf, had 
conducted the rehearsal in place of Scholz, who was ill. 


different from the Leipzig performance — that is, just as 
I hke it. 

If you see Reinecke,* you might recommend Buths. 
He is a very good pianist, and has written a Concerto 
in D minor which is well worth a hearing, even at the 

Would you be so very kind as to inquire for my sym- 
phony at Dr. Kretzschmar's?t I have not his address, 
and he did not go to Rostock from Leipzig. However, 
he will probably send of his own accord. 

And now kindest regards to you all three, and a 
plea for remembrance, from 

J. Brahms. 

9 Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, February 15, 1877. 

My dear Herr Brahms, — I hope you were not 
impatient with me for the delay in the arrival of the 
symphony. I confess my guilt, if guilt it was in your 
eyes, in having kept it back a few days, to learn it 
by heart. I had no time to ask your permission first, 
as of course I ought to have done. My little wife 
plays it accurately now, and is not a little proud of her 
feat in reading the score. But how shall I express our 
great admiration for the composer, and our thanks ? 
My clumsy pen is, I feel, very inadequate. It seems 
to us an event of world magnitude, the absence of 
which is now unthinkable, enriching and ennobling 
our existence as only the greatest things can. As 

* Karl Reinecke (b. 1824), pianist and composer, Director of the 

t Dr. Hermann Kretzschmar (b. 1848), writer and composer, 
afterwards Professor at Berlin University, was one of the earliest and 
most persuasive apostles of Brahms' music. 


a musician who has met with affectation and 
superficiality at every turn in his not inconsiderable 
experience, I count myself (and all earnest seekers) 
happy in this pillar you have erected — though with 
no thought of us — in our path. What matters the 
morass on our left, the sandy waste on our right ? It 
can only be a matter of indifference to you which road 
we strike. But if you will observe the Lilliputian 
migration (take a microscope, please !), you will per- 
haps find some satisfaction in the way the little folk 
have picked themselves up again, leaving here and 
there a boot in the mud in their anxiety to keep up, 
or shaking the dust from their garments (with quite a 
pretty colour effect), one and all determined to stick to 
the right path. 

And that reminds me of Julius Rontgen's* Serenade^ 
which we heard last Saturday. It is really his best 
work, and shows that he is not afraid to be ' tuneful,' 
unlike most other composers nowadays ! 

And now by way of farewell : 

For all that you've endured unvexed, 

I am your debtor ; 
And trust that where you sojourn next 

They'll treat you better ! f 

We know, for instance, that Frau Faber makes 
* dreams' of pasties. Remember us to the dear people. 
We so often wish we were near them. 

* JuHus Rontgen (b. 1855), pianist and composer, was from 1869 
leader of the Gewandhaus orchestra, and afterwards Director of Music 
in Amsterdam. 

f A variant of the well-known volkslied Da unten im Tale, set to 
music by Brahms. Herzogenberg's lines are as follows : 

' Fiir die Zeit, wo Sie vorlieb nahmen, 
Dankc ich schon, 
Und ich wiinsch', dass es Ihnen anderswo 
Besser mag gehn !' 


I have left no room for all the nice things I was 

to say to you from my wife and ' daughter,' so 

please consider them said. — Always yours very 



10. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 23, 1877.] 

Dear Friend, — I hope my fat letter of to-day will 
catch you in one of your leisure moments. You will 
see at once that I do not mean this sheet — I could 
never write a fat letter on ordinary paper — but some- 
thing that will arrive an hour or two later. I really 
felt I must send you a message or a greeting, and hear 
from you in return. 

Perhaps you may be induced to write and tell me 
what you think of my green-stuff,* and particularly of 
anything that has not the honour of pleasing you. 

When you have had enough of the sweets, you may 
turn to the study 'after Bach,' which should be 
amusing to practise.! 

I shall really write very soon to tell you where 
everything is to be sent. 

In any case, many apologies for giving you so much 
trouble over my correspondence. 

It would be nice if you had time and felt like writing 
me two letters, and scolding me well. 

Your * daughter ' ought really to send her sketches 
to the right address ! 

* Songs in manuscript from Op. 69-71. 

f Presto nach J. S. Bach, from the Sonata for Violin Solo in G minor. 
Two editions of this were published in 1879 by Bartholf Senff in 
Studien filr Pianoforte von Brahms. 



If I were to tell how the drawing had been taken 
for a portrait of one of my directors. . . !* 

Won't you come to Vienna a little earlier this year ? 
I am not sure how long I may stay or where I may 
go. It sounds like vanity — but you might spare your- 
selves the trouble of copying ; printing is so very, very 

But I must not give the lie to my opening remarks. 

— With kindest remembrances to the trefoil, yours 


J. Brahms. 

11. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 23, 1877.] 

Dear Friend, — Did you find them entertaining, and 
was your lady pleased ? Please pack up the whole 
bundle now and forward them as soon as possible, 
without losing a day, to Frau Schumann, Berlin, 
N.W., In den Zelten, No. 11. I am, quite seriously, 
ashamed to trouble you again, but it is done now. 

Forgive me. I shall look for a reassuring word. 

— In haste, yours very sincerely, 

J. Brahms. 

12. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, Afril 27, 1877. 

My dear kind Friend, — Just my luck ! I have come 
home at last, tired and dusty, after being out all day 
on concert business, without a moment's leisure for 
writing. Thank you now most sincerely for your 
very spontaneous sign of affection. It makes me 

* The portrait of Brahms by Mathilde von Hartenthal mentioned 
in Letter 7. 


happier than I have been for many a day, first that 
you should think of us at all, then your knowing how 
pleased we should be (otherwise you would have sent 
the parcel straight to its destination), and lastly the 
beauty of the songs, one and all. We shall not 
complain of the dream-like nature of their visit ; it is 
enough that they came our way at all. So indelibly 
did they impress themselves on our consciousness, 
that, even if we never saw them again and should lose 
all tangible recollection, the impression would keep 
its freshness, and we shall always like you the better 
by twenty songs, counting from yesterday. To the 
rescue, Samiel or Simrock,* and spare us this test ! 

We fetched Julius Rontgen, and sat at the piano 
four hours. First he sang, then she ; then she played, 
then he; while I took prosaic notes of our impressions, 
with the numbers and temperatures, on a slip of paper, 
so as to be able to say the proper thing to you after 
taking the parcel to post. This I did with my own 
hand this morning, so Frau Schumann will have them, 
and her delight in them, by now. 

Our special favourites are : Ei^ schmollte mein Vater^ 
Atherische feme Stimmen^ Silbermond, O Friihlings- 
abendddmmerungy Es kehrt die dunkle Schwalbe^ and 
Sonimerfdden,\ A curious thing happened with Frith- 
lingsabendddmmerung. We had sung it through many 

* Two of Brahms's publishers. — Tr. 

t The actual titles are : Des Liebsten Schwur,Lerchengcsang, An den 
Mond, Geheimnis, Alte Liebe, and Sommerfaden, from Op. 69, 70, 71, 
and 72. Herzogenberg speaks of twenty songs; but, as the four 
sets published by Simrock in 1877 include twenty-three songs, Brahms 
must have added three. He seems to have attached particular 
importance to Alte Liebe, Sommerfaden, Serenade (Op. 70), and 
Unilberwindlich (Op. 72), as he noted the date of their completion 
(May, 1876) with some care. 

2 — 2 


times with all possible fervour, when my conductor's 
eye, whose acquaintance you have not yet made, fell 
casually on the tempo mark. We were struck dumb, 
and exchanged conscience -stricken glances. I re- 
member talking about tempo marks to you, and 
having the audacity to maintain that a decent musician 
could not go wrong in the time of any healthy piece. 
And yet, how slowly had we taken it, misled by that 
same fervour ! Sehr lebhaft und heimlich runs the in- 
scription — and we had wasted sentiment on every 
suspension in the left hand ; we had lingered — with 
what delicious thrills ! — on the two broken chords 

2 and jj; in the right hand, with the syncopated D 

d d 

down below, and all wrong ! I seemed to hear your 
satirical laugh in the distance. You may be right ; 
you are, of course, and in future we will sing it with 
due 'vivacity' and 'secret' gratitude. All the same, 
the discovery affected us painfully, and we cherish a 
hope that Roder* made a mistake which you over- 
looked in the proof, and we may yet see it publicly 
inscribed Langsam und heimlich.] 

There is nothing to be said about Atherische feme 
Stimmen. I only regret that the right hand should be 
balked of its evident desire to stretch iiths and i3ths ! 
Words are never any good, but mine must be more 
futile than most people's ; for I seem doomed to write 
you, of all men, the stiffest and worst letters. If you 
have seen in them hitherto the expression of my 
character, I must indeed have come off badly ! 

* Music-engraver at Leipzig. 

f Cf. following letter. Brahms changed the tempo mark to Belebt 
und heimlich. 


The Bach arrangement is splendid, though we 
mortals can only manage it as a duet, and not easily 
at that. Is it to be printed, or may we order copies of 
it ? Piracy is, alas ! one of the many forbidden 
pleasures, or we should have liked to copy out one 
of the songs in haste, to be preserved as balm for 
certain wounded female hearts. But it has been 
dropped pitilessly into the treasure-chamber at the 
door of which that monstrous Berlin dragon suns 

It would have been delightful to meet you in 
Vienna, but hardly practicable, even if you are still 
there, for we are not coming at all. We are devoting 
the whole of May to my poor sister in Bohemia, who 
has just lost her husband. After that I hope for a 
quiet time in the mountains. We shall stay at Alt- 
Aussee until the end of September, working hard. 
You might really put in a little time there, too. How 
nice for me to see you and Goldmark doing a climb 
together ! 

So Frau Schumann goes to Diisseldorf, after all. Is 
she making a home for you, or what is behind it all ? 
I am not the Wochenblatt, and can hold my tongue. t 

Once more — God bless you ! 

This is merely number one. Number two follows 

close — to-morrow, indeed, when my wife has time to 

write.l — Yours most sincerely, 


* Probably refers to Brahms's publisher, Simrock. — Tr. 

t Brahms had been offered the post, once held by Schumann, of 
Music Director at Diisseldorf, but the lengthy negotiations led to 

X The letter was not written until May 5 (see Letter 14). 


13. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 29, 1877.] 

My good Friend, — In return for your very kind 
letter, I must tell you at once that, although Belebt und 
hcimlich is the tempo mark for Fruhlingsddmmerung 
in the manuscript, I set it down practically in despera- 
tion, thinking the song very dull. But later on there 
is immer langsamer^ Adagio^ and at the end actually 
a pause ^ over the whole bar ! 

Frau Schumann has long had an idea of settling at 
Dusseldorf. I think it a great pity for various reasons, 
and am exceedingly sorry she has decided to go. 

It has nothing to do with my invitation. The matter 
is at last (and only just) settled; for one thing, President 
Bitter* is going to Berlin. 

I am very glad I was cautious enough to keep out 
of that wasps' nest. 

Very best remembrances. — Yours in haste and sin- 
cerely, j^ Brahms. 

Talking of manuscripts, I have not forgotten that 
I owe your wife one. She shall not be disappointed. 
It will be the tenderest thing I can find ! 

14. Elisahet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, N.W. (!), May 5, 1877. 

Dear Herr Brahms, — Your birthday being the day 
after to-morrow, we shall celebrate it here with dear 

* Karl Hermann Bitter (1813-1885), Prussian Minister of Finance 
from 1878, whose writings on J. S. Bach and his sons were well 
known, was then Regieriings-'prdsidcnt at Dusseldorf, and President 
of the Musikgesellschafi there. In this capacity he had some corre- 
spondence with Brahms about the directorship. 


Frau Schumann at her own house. How your ears 
should burn when we drink your health ! Let me tell 
you it is a red-letter day for us, the day when you 
graciously condescended to visit this planet. 

It was a delight to find your songs again here. It 
gave me almost as much pain as pleasure to have 
them at Leipzig, for to have such a selection there 
without getting to know them intimately, or having 
them at hand to pet, was too tantalizing. I have made 
up for it now, more or less, and know some of them 
so well that they are with me in my walks and every- 
where. My prime favourites are : Atherische feme 
Stimmen, Sommerfdden, and the G-minor-y one in four- 
time with the dotted quavers (by Lemcke, I forget the 
name*) and then the glorious Mddchenfluch and — and 
— die dunklen Schwalben (Henschel's)!! 

Since you insist on hearing what we did not like, 
I will tell you, as I have a tiresome affection for home- 
truths. I don't like the Tambour ^ * nicht ist da ' (No. i, 
I think) or Willst du, dass ich geh\% Particularly 
the latter fails to appeal to me ; the words alone are 
enough. That kind of reproof is only possible in 
volkslied style. Wer steht vor meiner Kammertur and 
the one before it in the Schumann book§ are so entirely 
different. The tritt auf tritt auf in your duet|| could 
offend no one, for instance, but this one has an un- 
pleasant ring. / 

* Im Garten am Seegestade, Op. 70, No. i. 

t Georg Henschel (b. 1850), singer, to whom Brahms had given 
the manuscript of Alte Liebe in 1876, when at Riigcn. 

% Tambourlicdchen, Op. 69, No. 5 ; Klage, Op. 69, No. i, and Op. 71, 
No. 4. 

§ From Schumann's four duets, Op. 34, Untcrm Fenstcr and 
Liebhabers Stdndchen. 

II From Brahms's duets for alto and baritone, Op. 28, No. 2. 


But please don't mind my babble. Frau Schumann 
is asleep over in the other room, and the songs are on 
her piano; otherwise I could write another sheet or 
two about them — what an escape for you ! Excuse 
the smudges. We have to fetch Joachim to go to 

Good-bye, and we request that you will kindly live 
to be very, very old. 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 
Signed : Heinrich von Herzogenberg. 


1 5. Brahms to Elisabet vo7t Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, November 13, 1877.] 

My very dear Friend, — You will no doubt think, 
when you see my writing, that I am going to drop on 
you again to go to Hauffe or Hartel or the Hauffe 
Hotel for me. However, you are wrong. I am coming 
to Leipzig in the beginning of January, but shall take 
my luck, or at a pinch can be guided by the stars 
(with which Baedeker decorates so many places in 

But I have a request, and, what is more, one that 
hopes for an answer. Hartel is worrying me to help 
with the complete edition of Chopin, t 

I should like to know whether your parents possessed 
any manuscripts, or, still better, copies of his works 
with any of his notes or corrections. § 

^ Probably an evening devoted to Lowe's ballads, 
t Nickname for Marie Fillunger, singer, and friend of Frau 

X Brahms helped to revise the edition. 

§ The father was a pupil of Chopin (see Introduction). 


Could I see any there may be in Vienna? Or at 
Dresden* or Leipzig? 

If I were a well-behaved person, my letter would be 
just beginning; or if I were sufficiently bold, I should 
be tempted to slip a practical joke on music-paper f 
into the envelope. 

But 1 am neither, so merely send you — all three — 

my best remembrances, and request the honour of 

inviting you personally to the performance of my 

newest symphony.t — Most sincerely yours, 

J. Brahms. 
Vienna, IV. Karlsgasse, 4. 

16. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] November 15, 1877. 

My very dear Friend, — I confess I thought some- 
thing different was coming when I received your note, 
and was as delighted as a child to think that you were 
coming to see us. Instead of which — an introduction 
about Hartel-Hauffe and the stars in Baedeker, and 

* Elisabet's brother, Ernst von Stockhausen, lived in Dresden. 

t The practical joke was a copy which Brahms had made for 
Frau von Herzogenberg of one of his vocal quartets, schone Nacht ! 
Op. 92, No. I, first published in 1884. At the words ^ Der Knabe 
schlcicht zu seiner Licbsten sacht — sacht — saclit,' Brahms left a space, 
and wrote across the score : ' Stop, Johannes my son, what's this ? 
These matters are only to be treated in volkslied style ; you have 
forgotten again. Only a peasant may ask whether he is to stay or 
go, and you are no peasant, alas ! Don't offend that fair head with 
its glory of gold, but have done ! Repeat simply ' (here the song 
continues) : 'O schone Nacht!' This was, of course, meant as a mild 
protest against his friend's objection to * Willst dii, dass ich geh.' The 
original manuscript of this quartet was in the possession of Thcodor 
Billroth, the eminent Viennese surgeon, and bore the date January 29, 
1878. It was, however, composed in the summer of 1877. Both 
copies bear the name Notturno. 

% In D, Op. 73. 


after that the Chopin matter. Now you must admit 
it would have been much friendlier to begin : 

'I am coming to you on January i. See that you 
have good coffee, and fresh — not boiled — cream this 
time, since you have at last realized that I prefer it. 
Don't starve me, either, but give me a decent lunch 
(Emma Engelmann * will give you an idea of its dimen- 
sions). If these conditions are fulfilled, I will play 
you my new symphony at once without waiting until 
Stockhausent comes,' etc. 

Yes, that is how any nice, comfortable person would 
write. As for you, your letter really made me sad. 
You see, I knew long ago that you were coming in 
January with a new symphony in your bag — how can 
you write an elegant word like 'symphony' with an/?t 
— and yet I forced myself not to write, out of modesty, 
and with the idea that Brahms would write and invite 
himself if he v/anted to come. And this is my reward ! 
Hang modesty, I say! 

I can tell you little about Chopin. So far as I know, 
my father has, or had, one single manuscript. This 
he gave to my brother, who has also my father's whole 
Chopin edition. He can best give you information. 
I believe Chopin scribbled a mark or two in some of 
the things. You shall certainly see all there is. I am 
writing to my brother about it by this post. 

And now, fare you well — better than you deserve ! 

* Emma Engelmann, nee Brandes (b. 1854), a pianist, pupil of Aloys 
Schmitt and Goltermann, wife of the Berlin physiologist, Theodor 
Wilhelm Engelmann, at that time Professor at Utrecht University. 
They were among Brahms's best friends. The Quartet in B flat, 
Op. 67, is dedicated to Engelmann. 

t JuUus Stockhausen (1826- 1906), famous singer, and master of 
method at Frankfurt-am-Main. 

X German modern spelling of the word, Sinfonie. — Tr. 


If you really wanted to be quite free this time and 
go to Hauffe (who has added a new storey, and grows 
more splendid every day), you might have broken it to 
me differently, so that I could glean a little comfort. 
That letter was horrid. You cannot go to the Hartels, 
because they are in Italy; nor to the Engelmanns,* who 
would no doubt like to have you, as the house will 
be broken up. Old Mrs. Engelmann has to be with 
Emma, who is expecting a baby, lucky woman ! 

So if you are not set on going to Hauffe's . . . write 
and tell your devoted friends, 

The Herzogenbergs. 

1 7. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, November 22, 1877.] 

Dear Lady, — Modesty is the most unpractical garb 
anyone can wear. Are you only teasing me, or did 
you really not see the insinuating way in which my 
letter pulled your beard — the beautiful one which 
adorns your husband's face ? Your general informa- 
tion is, I may say, superfluous, and moreover untrust- 
worthy. 'The good storks return 'f in December, not 

The new symphony, too, is merely a Sinfonie^ and I 
shall not need to play it to you beforehand. You have 
only to sit down to the piano, put your small feet 
on the two pedals in turn, and strike the chord of 
F minor several times in succession, first in the treble, 

* Wilhelm Engelmann (1808-1878), publisher and art-collector in 
Leipzig, father of Professor Engelmann. 

t Quotation from the song Altc Licbc, Op. 72, No. i. According 
to German legend, the storks bring babies. 


then in the bass [ff and />/»), and you will gradually 
gain a vivid impression of my 'latest.'* 

But I must really apologize for doing nothing but 
contradict you. Here is some news to make up. 
Goldmark arrived yesterday, and will probably be 
in Leipzig in January with his opera.f This opera 
of his takes him away, not only from his studio at 
Gmunden, but from here constantly. I should like 
to keep him here. He is a delightful fellow, and there 
are too few of the sort in Vienna. 

But how many letters have I written to-day ? I 
really must stop. If I put this in its cover after all, it 
is only because I fear you may really have misunder- 
stood my last. 

It was, as a matter of fact, a begging letter. By the 
way, Epstein I led me to expect more from your Chopin 

No more to-day. — With kindest regards, yours 

very sincerely, 

J. Brahms. 

1 8. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig] December 3, 1877. 

My dear good Friend, — It was bad of me not to 
answer your last kind letter at once; but I had the 
Spittas staying here, and there was always something 
in the way. Thank you for wanting to come back to 
us. If you went to Hauffe's, I should be as sad as, 

* An attempt to mislead her as to the character of the symphony, 
which was actually the reverse of gloomy. 

f The Queen of Shcha^ which was produced everywhere soon after 
the first successful performance in Vienna (1875). 

X Julius Epstein (b. 1832), Viennese pianist and professor, who 
had taught Frau von Herzogenherg. 


say, Simrock, if you published your second Sinjonie 
(since it must be !)* elsewhere. 

If you would only express yourself a little more 
clearly, my gratitude would be complete. They say 
here that your Sinfonie is to be played in January, and 
not at the first concert, either. Frau Schumann tells 
me definitely she is coming back to hear the Brahms 
symphony, after having played at the New Year's 
concert herself. So please explain why the good 
storks (to which you evidently think you belong!) 
return in December. I must know, because I have 
practically no room in December, when both my little 
rooms will be full. It is an arrangement of long 
standing that I cannot possibly alter now, and I am 
therefore most anxious to hear that you made a slip 
the other day. Otherwise you would not be able to 
land at our house, though I hope we should persuade 
you to move across into Humboldtstrasse later. Your 
letter is so vague that I have just had a presentiment 
your sentence about the storks may be taken to refer 
to Frau Engelmann, in which case I am worrying 
unnecessarily about your visit. How I hope this may 
be so ! 

This sudden inspiration has quite dazed me, for 
the storks are flying about my head in their sphinx- 
like double character. Do clear up the confusion, and 
forgive these hurried lines. — Yours, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

Tell us which day to expect you, so that we can 
look forward to it. 

P.S. — On reading your letter over, I understand it 
perfectly, and see that I was a goose about the storks. 

* C/. Letters 16 and 17. 


We may expect you in January, then ; the earlier the 
better. Both rooms are free from the 2nd. 

About Chopin — my brother, I am sorry to say, con- 
firms my conjecture. He writes that my father's 
edition contains nothing that can be of use to you. 
Any notes there may be are not supplementary 
readings, but only corrections of glaring misprints, 
such as every musical person could make for himself. 
The fingering which is written in here and there might 
equally well be Alkan's.* My father studied with him 
also. Of the three manuscripts in my brother's pos- 
session, two are copies, the only genuine one being 
the Barcarolle^ dedicated to my mother. My brother 
would like to give you this, together with the personally 
presented copy of the G minor Ballade; but he must first 
ask my father, who made them over to him with the 
solemnest stipulations. If you would still care to see 
the books, they are of course at your service, I was 
to tell you. 

19. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, December 12, 1877.] 

My very dear Friend, — I had a sheet of paper all 
ready for you, when there came a letter from Lim- 
burger,t inviting me to play my concerto at Leipzig on 
January i. I really don't know what to do, and have 
to think it over so carefully that you will have no 

* Charles Henri Valentin Morhange (18 13- 1888), known as Alkan, 
French pianist and composer. 

t Dr. Limburger, Consul at Leipzig, was on the committee of the 
Gewandhaus concerts. 


You can imagine the respect with which your last 
letter inspired me. It was a triumph of penetration, 
and read, I may say, like a page in one of Beethoven's 
sketch-books, where an idea is originated, developed, 
and — fill out the parallel for yourself. 

But can you really stand a practical joke ? I wanted 
to make my peace by enclosing the Andante from 
my third piano quartet, which I still have, remem- 
bering that you liked it, and I hardly know whether I 
am keeping it back from vanity or a sense of delicacy. 
I will bring it when I come. 

1 will not insult your intelligence by offering to 
explain the little jest* I am sending, and need hardly 
say that I strongly advocate the exploitation of other 
people's motifs. . . . 

But, as you see, my thoughts are with Limburger. 

To have the F minor! here on the 30th, and then play 

a piano concerto ! ? ! ? — Yours most sincerely, 

J. Br. 

20. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December 13, 1877.] 

My good Friend, — I forgot to say yesterday that, in 
case 1 do play at Leipzig, % I should very much like to 
have a day or two at an hotel. I should be uncomfort- 
able practising in a friend's house, you see, and yet 
I must practise. So if I am such a fool as to accept, I 
shall ask you to engage me a room at Hauffe's, or 
where you like, and order in a piano (an upright). 

Then, when your rooms are at liberty, I shall be 

* The manuscript of schone Nacht, mentioned in Letter 15. 
Brahms had used a motif of Herzogenberg's by way of a jest, 
t He keeps up the fiction about his D major symphony. 
;}: He was to play his Concerto in D minor, Op. 15. 


free too, and can make a triumphal procession 
through the town to your house. 

N.B. — I expect to have a concert here on the 30th,* 

so shall arrive at the last moment. Are you on such 

terms with Reinecke that you can ask him about a 

concert-grand ? I shall come straight to rehearsal, 

and should like to have the best possible piano. — With 

kindest regards, yours in great haste, 

J. Br. 

2 1 . Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] December 16, 1877. 

My very dear Friend, — Since it has to be, I w^ill 
engage you a room at Hauffe's or 'where 1 like.' 
Where I like happens to be the Palmbaum, a highly 
respectable, clean, and sufficiently elegant hotel, which 
is not far from us. You will thus be able to come and 
rest from your labours, the finger exercises, in the 
evening. Also we should like to invite you to dinner, 
if not every day, very often, and altogether make your 
necessary and voluntary exile as pleasant as possible, 
It will also simplify matters when the blissful moment 
comes for you to move into Humboldstrasse. So, un- 
less I hear from you again, I will ask you to consider 
yourself booked at the Palmbaum, and make your 
arrangements accordingly. You will, I hope, let me 
know the day and hour of your arrival soon. 

I will order you an extra-magnificent piano through 
Reinecke. I think I can get you a full-sized Bluthner 
(Aliquot), or, if you like, a fine Bechstein (from your 
friend Robert Seitz, who will at worst only request 

* The D major symphony was played at the Vienna Philharmonic, 
under Dr. Richter, on December 30, 1877. 


the manuscript of a symphony in return !). Or, if you 
like Grotrian, Helfferich and Schulz, I can try for one 
of theirs. Bluthner is certain. 

My best thanks, by the way, for taking my egg into 
your cuckoo's nest.* History will not be able to 
say in our case that a pupil has robbed his master. 
Writers such as Emil Naumannf and others will be 
so flustered, if this sort of thing goes on, as to be 
reduced to classifying Brahms as the Epigonus of his 
most faithful disciples. And it would serve you right! 

But why did you keep back the part which divides 
us ? 

Would it not have been better to fill this serious 
gapt with something nice and non-committal than to 
exercise your fatal memory for certain conversations ? 

I am copying out this exquisite song, and want to 
have it sung here, so please send what is missing. 

The youth steals along a familiar path to his be- 
loved, § but what matter, if he does it melodiously ? 

I have a Bach concert to-day. Counting backwards, 
how many have there been ? Who could guess ? 

Our kindest regards, and we hope soon to hear 

about the hotel, the piano and the date of your 

arrival. — Ever yours sincerely, 


(P.S. from Elisabet von Herzogenberg.) 

I have to thank you for the manuscript, which would 
have pleased me better without its strong flavour of 
sarcasm, aimed at my poor feminine scruples. You 

* See notes to Letters 15 and 19. 

t Emil Naumann (1827-1888), composer and writer on music at 
Dresden ; author of an Illustrated History of Music. 
X See Letter 15, note. § See schd'ne Nachi ! — Tr. 



think me prudish, and it is useless to defend myself, 
although nothing could be more unjust. If you only 
knew how many lances I have broken for your 
Daumer songs, even the much-abused Unbewegte laue 

But one gets hardened to ingratitude. It is just the 
way in which the question is put — May he stay?t — 
that makes all the difference, and Lemcke is not, to 
my mind, the man to put it.J Now, this E major piece 
might say or ask what it would ; it is so beautiful, one 
would put up with anything. What a distressingly 
good memory you have ! Please exert it to remember 
the promised manuscript from the C minor quartet. 
You will not grudge it to the misjudged 

Wife of the Above. 

22. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig] December 26, 1877. 

My dear Friend, — Your rooms will be ready on 
the 31st, and you will be so good as to come straight 
to us, and not go to the hotel first for twenty-four 
hours. What good would it do ? You would only 
have a pitiful couple of hours for practising in any 

* Op. 57, No. 8. Georg Friedrich Daumer (1800-1875), author of 
the exquisite German version of Hafiz, and the collection of songs 
Poly dor a, was at one time unjustly decried for the sensuality of his 
poems. His Frauenbilder und Huldigungen, in particular, brought 
him much adverse criticism. Brahms, who used several of Daumer's 
poems, had taken the words for the song in question from this 

f The particular point in the song to which Frau von Herzogen- 
berg had taken objection (see Letter 14). 

X Karl Lemcke (b. 183 1), poet and writer on aesthetics and 
literature, held posts at the Universities of Heidelberg, Munich, 
Amsterdam, and Stuttgart. 


case,* and you certainly would not make use of them 

without someone to look after you Once here, I shall 

be that someone, seat you at the piano, and then 

depart lest you should feel shy. If we only knew 

whether you really were coming on the 31st! You 

will not write, and we are so looking forward to your 

coming, especially if you don't mean to be horrid to 

me any more. Mind you don't forget my Adagio. I 

think it is quite fair that you propose to give me that, 

for I love it so very, very dearly. And now be good, 

and come to 

Your devoted Herzogenbergs. 

23. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, December 29, 1877.] 
Impossible to discuss hotel, puddings and piano at 
this distance. I hope, however, you will not make 
any fuss or burn up the dishes. 

I am to arrive on Monday at 12.45, ^^^ go straight 
to the rehearsal. Your husband would perhaps like 
to ask if I cannot have a change and a wash in 
between, but it's no good. — Ever your unwashed 

J. Br. 

The orchestra here play my new symphony with 
crape bands on their sleeves because of its dirge-like 
effect. It is to be printed with a black edge, too.f 

* Brahms was to play his D minor concerto on New Year's Day 
at the Gewandhaus, where on a previous occasion (January 27, 1859) 
it had been very badly received (see Kalbcck's Johannes Brahms, 
i. 352). He conducted his second symphony at the following concert 
on January 10. 

t This is in keeping with his jest about the ' F minor ' symphony 
(see footnote, Letter 17). The symphony was, in fact, well received 
in Vienna, some parts with enthusiasm. 


24. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] January 16, 1878. 

Dear, good, much-missed Friend, — Here is the only 
press notice 1 have been able to lay hands on so far. 
But you shall have them all, no fear ! including the 

, which declares with some finality that your 

latest lacks inspiration. You will have to get used to 
all these things, and cultivate a * superior attitude,' as 
Frau Pastor says. But when you write (we do not 
expect to hear until you are in Vienna),* do tell us 
*why and to what extent you are above criticism.' 
We will see to it that the little essay is widely circu- 
lated. As you know, I never tire of upholding your 
good name, and always assure people that you are the 
politest, most sociable and polished creature in the 
world ; that you took lessons in deportment from 
Frappartt in Vienna ; and that it is only the grossly 
ignorant who fail to appreciate the elegance of your 

I can't think of anything more to-day. Nothing has 
happened except that notre maitre^ notre enfant de- 
parted on the evening of the nth, leaving two very 
sad Herzogenbergs behind. One grows accustomed 
to delightful visitors with such fatal ease. Thank you 
for the eleven beautiful days you vouchsafed us. It 
was so good of you to give us so much of your time. 
I was really touched every time you spared an evening 
from the Beethoven table.! 

* From Leipzig Brahms went on to conduct his new symphony at 
Bremen, January 22 ; at Amsterdam, February 4 ; and at The Hague, 
February 6. 

■j- Louis Frappart, principal dancer at the Viennese Opera. 

J In a certain restaurant. 


You did forget your liqueur-flask, after all. My 
state of mind on discovering it was much like my 
small nephew's, years ago, when he discovered that 
Mathilde Hartenthal had gone away without the nut- 
crackers he had given her. ' What will she do, poor 
thing ?' he exclaimed feelingly. 

It is more important that you left a nightgown ; 1 
shall send it on to Utrecht, laundried a snowy white. 
Here in Leipzig we go on just the same. I am study- 
ing the D major duet* with W , the tenor, and 

take immense pains to get it nice ; but W can't 

manage the Bb-E-A-D at the end, in the Chamber 
scene, which makes singing together very difficult. 

But goodbye, goodbye. I can't have you saying: 
Talkativeness, thy name is Woman ! etc. 

I hope you will thoroughly enjoy the C minor,t 
though I question whether you can enjoy your own 
music half as much as we do? Pity us a little that 
we cannot be there too, and think of us occasionally 
anyway. — Your most faithful admirers, 


25. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Hamburg, January 18, 1878.] 

Dear Friend, — This is, to all intents and purposes, 
a post-card, whatever it looks hke; a short, hasty 
scribble, with no allusion to the delightful days I 
spent at your house. 

Well, I think every day what a good thing it is I am 
not entertaining you here, for the weather is vile as 
only Hamburg weather can be — and is, on 360 days in 

* Op. 75, No. 3. 

f The C minor symphony at Hamburg and Utrecht. 


the year. (It is difficult enough to hit the other five.) 
Not an hour, the whole time, when you feel inclined 
to go out, or even look out of the window. 

But I shall enjoy doing the C minor. The orchestra 
are so enthusiastic that I am really looking forward to 
this evening. To-morrow I go to Bremen (Karl Rein- 
thaler);* Wednesday to Utrecht (Professor T. W. 
Engelmann). I have promised to give them the D major 
in Amsterdam on February 4. The Utrecht address is 
quite right for letters. 

And now you have the post-card revealed. Would 
you kindly send the parts of the symphony to Am- 
sterdam ? Address to J. A. Sillem, Heerengracht, 

I expect you know Simrock's agent, though, and 
only need to hand the packet over to him. You may 
also — in sober truth — call the other parcel a duet, and 
give it to him to send to Utrecht. 

I wrote to Wiillnert the first day I arrived, but do 
imagine our poor friend's torture? when she hears 
that the programme consists of the D major symphony, 
Phantasie with chorus, Beethoven, and — Feuerzauber!^ 
I will of course write and urge her to come, though the 
whole thing is so comic that I shall find it difficult to 
be serious about it. I can't think that anything will 
induce her. 

* Karl Reinthaler (1822-1896), composer and conductor at Bremen, 
an enthusiastic admirer of Brahms. He was the first to give the 
German Requiem in full at Bremen Cathedral on April 11, 1868. 

t Franz Wiillner (1832-1902), conductor at Munich and Dresden. 

X Frau Schumann, who was to play the Beethoven Phantasie at 
the same concert with the Brahms symphony at Dresden. 

§ Frau Schumann's antipathy to Wagner was so great that 
Brahms feared she would not play with Fcuerzauher on the pro- 


And now, thanks for — everything, and also for your 

very kind letter. Rest assured, however many you 

write and however kind they are, I shall consider it a 

loan, and repay it with interest. Greetings to all the 

little brothers and sisters, and to Bernstorff.* — Ever 



26. Elisahet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] January 19, 1878. 

Your welcome letter has just arrived, giving the 
best of flavours to our breakfast, and we thank you for 
all the nice things you say or imply. But you must 
really make Wullner change the programme. * It 
takes many hounds to kill a hare,' but one Feuerzauber 
would be Frau Schumann's death. It is inconceivable 
that she should play. There really is a want of deli- 
cacy in the arrangement. How can any audience be 
expected to appreciate really artistic work and a 
piece like Feuerzauber on one and the same evening ? 
O Wullner, Wullner ! I always thought you a gentle- 
man, but this programme betrays the impresario. 
The glittering 'fire-piece' will excite everybody, of 
course, and the palm of the evening goes to Wagner. 
* O, how far, how far above,'t etc., are the gentle 
D major, breathing beauty, dropping balsam into the 
soul ; and the Phantasie^ written for the elect — and to 
have on top of these, a Feuerzauber ! Why is he so 
impatient, our good Wullner? Are we not to have 
all Wagner's enchantments let loose in our theatres 

* Eduard Bernstorff (1825-1901), the anti-Brahms critic of the 
musical paper Die Signalefiir die musikalische Welt. 

f First line of the duet Klosterfrdulein (Brahms, Op. 61, No. 2). 


soon enough, and is it not the right, the only place for 

them ? 

' Fire is mighty when watched by its master ; 
When fire is master itself — there's disaster.' 

Frau Schumann will do quite right in refusing to 
play, but surely you can influence Wullner to a change 
of programme ? Shake off your indifference for once — 
for the sake of your dear, dear symphony, too — and 
make him understand that it is inartistic to appeal to our 
higher and our lower natures in one evening. What 
would Wullner say, I wonder, to a picture exhibition 
with a Raphael and a Makart hung side by side ? But 
here I am repeating myself over and over in my rage. 
Would that you had a spark of indignation and less 
humour in your composition, and had written to Franz 
as well as to Wullner ! 

Heinrich is sending your parts to Amsterdam, and 
packing his excitement in with them. By the way, our 
dear Frau von B. has taken away my nurse* again, and 
sent her off to Frau Emma at Utrecht with the birth- 
day presents. But they are addressed to you, for you 
are to have the amusement of handing over the nurse 
to Frau Engelmann, accompanied by all the appropriate 
witticisms. Give my love to the dear thing, who can do 
so much : play so incomparably with those tiny white 
hands, laugh like a bird, bewitch everybody — and 
bring children into the world, which is surely the best 
and most wonderful thing a woman can do. Please 

assure her of my sincere, ungrudging admiration. 


How glad I am that you are doing the D major in 
Amsterdam ! Dear old Juliusf will hear it, and will be 
so pleased. 

* Probably a doll from the fair at Leipzig. f Julius R5ntgen. 

* EDWARD' 41 

Good-bye. Send another ' post-card' soon, and work 

Do this — and accept my devotion ; or decline — and 
cause me much pain. — Yours, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

27. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig] January 31, 1878. 

Here is your Eduard* again. I have taken the 
liberty of falling more and more hopelessly in love 
with him. You have no notion what a gorgeous thing 
it is. Please correct the chord in the accompaniment 
on p. 7, second bar, where it should surely be F, as 
before ; not F flat. 

I am not enclosing the bundle of press notices, in 
spite of your orders, for we conceived a sudden loath- 
ing for the stuff. It is a shame to waste a quarter of an 
hour over it. I am putting the precious pile in with 
the music to go to Vienna, where you have at least a 
waste-paper basket into which it may be some slight 
satisfaction to hurl it. I hope Eduard will arrive 
in time for Emma to see. Please point out all its 
beauties. Show her the amazing variety in the accom- 
paniment to Eduard's replies — the 'vulture' verse 
where it is so subdued, and the right-hand part is 
simple and monotonous ; the change when you come 
to the * roan,' where the subdominant is introduced, 
and the D flat in the tenor (which was the ninth before) 
has the effect of something quite new ; then the exquisite 
passage in the right hand up to G flat and down again 
— you can hardly believe it to be the same melody 

* Edward, ballad for alto and tenor with pianoforte, Op. 75, 
No. I. 


as in the beginning; and again, when the mother's 
questioning comes, it is the same and yet quite different, 
with the gradual rise in pitch by three degrees up to 
the splendid climax in B flat minor. ... Oh for the 
gift of words to describe this masterpiece ! And how 
natural, how necessary and exactly right it all is ! . . . 
Just as if Eduard's excitement and his mother's must 
inevitably have had that note from the very beginning, 
and could have no existence apart from the music. 
And to think that the poem has lain there so long, a 
dumb thing, until someone came along, took it to his 
heart, and gave it to the world again in F minor — his 
own ! 

But ours too ; for enjoyment is possession. Or have 
you any objection to raise ? 

Well, good-bye. Don't think me unkind, but — have 
you written to Dresden ? I challenge you with my 
best tragedy voice ! — Kindest regards, 

Elisabet H. 

28. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

Amsterdam, February 3, 1878. 

My dear Friend, — If I send these few hasty, whis- 
pered words, it is with the full consciousness of their 
inadequacy ; and I wish I could do anything better to 
thank you for your — in part — admirable, but wholly 
kind and charming letter. 

It was the Feuerzauher dissertation which was so 

I had written to Frau Schumann, hoping to persuade 
or soothe her. But the spectre has no terrors for our 
friend. She writes, quite casually, that of course she 
need not listen ! 


I have not written to WiiUner — my pocket is stuffed 
full of unanswered letters — but I was tempted to send 
him your dissertation. However, we can let the matter 
rest now. Unless Frau Schumann changes her mind, 
I shall go to Dresden, and hope you will go too ! 

Holland is really charming ; I lose my head over 
it each time. Number 2* takes so well with both 
musicians and public that it is not spoiling my 
stay. We do it at Amsterdam on the fourth and the 
eighth, at The Hague on the sixth ; besides which 
Number i is being done at a sort of people's concert 
at Amsterdam on the fifth ! 

But you rather exaggerate my communicativeness 
in thinking I wanted Edward (I beg your pardon : 
EduardY back.f When I read the kind things you 
say about it, for instance, I feel distinctly annoyed, 
and say to myself: 'Why did you not take more 
trouble ? It ought to have been much nicer.' 1 must 
be mistaken of course ! — but it is a curious sensation. 

I leave on the ninth. Have you nothing else to 

send ? By the way, I have not yet thanked you for 

anything, not even for the amount of trouble you took 

over that 'more important' article. But the best of 

all these parcels is that they bring letters with them, 

and these deserve more thanks. For to-day, however, 

only kindest messages to you both and a few others. — 

Always yours most sincerely, 

J. Brahms. 

^ Heaven help me if I should write Ediiard for 
Edward or sinfonie for symphony ! 

* The D major symphony. 

f That is to say, he was in no hurry to publish it. It appeared in 
the autumn of that year, however. 


Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, February 5, 1878. 

My dear Friend, — Please don't jeer at my poor little 
epistles, or I shall be afraid to go on scribbling, and 
that would be grievous. I do get a little something 
in return — as witness your last from Amsterdam. We 
were quite resigned to having Julius Rontgen's account 
for our first, so imagine our shame and surprise at 
receiving your letter. We had heard from the Engel- 
manns how you were being spoiled in Holland; how 
men and women, leaders of the orchestra and chorus, 
were all fighting for the honour of crowning you with 
laurels. The Dutch are evidently by no means so 
cold-blooded as is commonly reported. It would be 
amusing to start an inquiry as to why the Middle- 
German pulse beats so feebly, and consoling to discover 
some ethnological solution. But I did not mean to 
touch on this sore point ; I set out to thank you, for 
I do think it so very kind that you found time to speed 
a message into our quiet Humboldtstrasse in the midst 
of these exciting times, where you go from triumph to 
triumph. But you knew how grateful we should be. 

Heaven preserve me from writing Edward wrong 
again to incur your mockery ! I had better write 
Brahmst for Brahms!* 

^ id Ik * * 

Indeed I do not consider you * communicative.' If 
you were, that evening when you fetched one duet 
after the other out of your box would not be such 

* The name Brahms is still written with the final t by some of 
the composer's relations in Holstein, and his father was sometimes 
addressed in that way in Hamburg. Brahms had himself a peculiar 
aversion to it. 


a fabulous event in our memory. But you really did 
ask to have the duets back. 

Yesterday you unconsciously performed several 
deeds of mercy. You raised the sick, healed the 
broken-hearted, fed the hungry, and gave drink to 
the thirsty. We went to see poor Holstein,* and 
played him the C minor! in our best duet-fashion, 
which is, as you know, exemplary. He lay on the 
sofa, bright-eyed, nursing the score, and drank in the 
familiar sounds, this being the first time he has been 
permitted to refresh his memory. You can do many 
things, my dear Friend, and this power to gladden the 
heart of a poor sick fellow and charm back the colour 
into his cheeks, the brightness into his eyes, is not 
by any means the least of them. 

Heaven's greeting to you ; and please greet, in your 
turn, Julius Rontgen from us. Poor boy, how hard 
both he and his parents found the parting! 

Good-bye, good-bye. Make many others happy, and 
be happy yourself. 

Give us a thought now and again. — Your 


Kirchnert has been playing us his arrangement of 
the E flat variations. It is quite excellent ; only an 
enthusiast could have done it. 

* Franz von Holstein (1826- 1878), composer of opera, was then on 
his death-bed. 

t The first symphony. 

X Theodor Kirchner (1823 - 1903), composer and pianist, who 
arranged several of Brahms's works. He arranged the variations 
in question (Op. 23), originally written as a duet, for pianoforte 


30. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, February 19, 1878.] 

My dear Friend, — It would be nice to hear from 
you again, if only a line. Do tell us at least whether 
you have decided to go to Dresden for the D major. 
We should love to go, and, as luck will have it, we 
could arrange it nicely. Julius Rontgen made us 
waver by saying you intended to stay in Vienna and 
work. But surely you will not fail Frau Schumann 
on the top of her other trials — "^oor Feuerzauber v'\ct\m\ 
Julius Rontgen has some amazing stories of the way 
people lost their heads in Amsterdam. Would that 
anyone here would do the same ; but we shall never 
live to see that ! 

^ .^ ^ ^ .^ 

Rubinstein* will be sent off to-morrow in the bad 

company of 1 and the Leipzig press notices. This 

note is merely their passport. My poor Heinrich has a 
nasty cough, and is quite knocked up. The worst of 
it is, he must go through with the rehearsals until the 
concert! on Saturday. But * Abide with us, for it is 
toward evening,' § is such heavenly music that it ought 
to make Heinz well again. 

Good-bye for to-day. Kindest messages to the 

And don't let your pen go rusty ! By the way, if 
you are ever at a loss to know what to write, please do 
some solfeggi, with or without words ; there are so 

* Probably a new pianoforte work of Anton Rubinstein's, 
t Pieces by a Leipzig composer. 

\ One of the Bach-Verein performances which Herzogenberg 
conducted, while his wife accompanied and sang. 
§ An Easter cantata by Bach. 


few of these elaborate vocal pieces.* I now sing 
Bach's organ sonatas, which give me intense delight ; 
but how nice to have anything as elaborate written 
actually for the voice — at least eight quavers to every 
word ! That would be glorious. Julius Rontgen, on 
the other hand, hankers after finger exercises from your 
pen, with the hand in * fixed ' position. It seems that in 
Amsterdam the very tiniest damsels want to play 
Brahms, you Pied Piper ! 
My poor dear joins me in all kind messages. 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

31. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] March i, 1878. 

You know the delight with which we in Humboldt- 
strasse hail every shaving from your workshop ; how 
much greater our delight over this thrilling witch- 
duet, f which is one unbroken flow of inspiration. 
That nice old weather-worn manuscript paper suits 
it, too.t The words seem to me quite blood-curdling,§ 
and I was furious with an enlightened professor to 
whom I lent the poem the other day. It only struck 
him as intensely ludicrous, poor fellow ! He was not 
brought up on Grimm's fairy-tales. I am glad to say 
the duet sends cold shudders down my back every 
time I play it, although I know quite well by now that 

* Brahms did not respond to this desire, perhaps considering her 
complaint unfounded. He was better acquainted with the old Italian 
writers of solfeggi. 

t Walpurgisnacht, duet for two sopranos, Op. 75, No. 4. 

% Brahms had a predilection for old manuscript-paper, which he 
bought as waste-paper. 

§ By V^illibald Alexis. 


the mother has flown up the chimney. I am going to 
practise it with the youngest Rontgen girl. Her 
innocent childish soprano is the very thing for the 
witch's daughter, and I intend to distinguish myself as 
the witch. And how delightful it all is again ! The 
whole situation is so clear from the very opening, and 
I like the way the bass doubles the voice in "Ses/ heute 
der erste Mai, liebes Kind,' and, farther on, the introduc- 
tion of the frightened daughter's motif into the accom- 
paniment to the mother's replies (let anyone with a 
desire to shudder and shake come and listen), which 
makes that part as much a duet as if the daughter's 
voice were heard. Of course the answer is the ques- 
tion inverted — that one would expect ! And how it 
works up to a climax at the end — there is a family 
resemblance to Edward there ! All this you know so 
much better than I, that it is absurd for me to go 
on chattering; I feel quite ashamed of having let my 
pen run on thus far. But you are so meek ! 

Do you mind if I sing Ob ini Dorf wohl Hexen sind ? 
with ob on the strong beat (D) — in deference to Herr 
Kipke,* let us say ! It fits in quite nicely. Old Herr 
Engelmannf was here to-day, and read out with pride 
your fine panegyric on the infant.J What a farce, 
when the indignant grandmother told us that you 
hardly deigned a glance at the new arrival ! 

Our Bach concert, which took place a week ago, 
went off brilliantly, although our organist was taken 
ill on the very day. Amanda Mair, the pretty 
Swedish girl, came to our rescue, and acquitted her- 

* Karl Kipke, a music critic, who accused Brahms of faulty 

t The father of T. W. Engelmann. 

X Brahms's letter of congratulation to the family at Utrecht. 


self admirably. Women are not always to be despised, 
you see. 

Good-bye now, and thank you again. Whenever 
you feel moved to give me a great treat, send me some 
more. Shall I have to pass on the Witch to someone 
else presently ? (Fear-motif in D flat !) And are you 
going to Dresden ? And Frau Schumann, and the 
Feuerzauher? 'S ist hetite der erste Mdrz^ liebes Kind^ 
and we are still in the dark. 

Herr Simrock* was inquiring anxiously as to your 
movements to-day; but you are going to let poor 
* Toggenburg ' Astorf have the duets, are you not ? 

' Good deeds do make us like unto 
The blessed angel train ; 
And at the last, if so we do, 
The heavenly realm we gain.' 

Auf Wiedersehen in Dresden. — Your most grateful 

E. H. 

32. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 


My dear Friend, — I must absolutely write and tell 
you with what delight we look back to those days in 
Dresden. t The beloved D major haunts us waking 
or sleeping, and we don't know how to thank you 
enough for a happiness such as seldom comes our 
way. But I am also impelled to write for another 
reason. I am going to quarrel with you ! I hope we 
are on a footing which permits of an occasional word 
in earnest as well as in jest, and you must please take it 

* Brahms's publisher. 
t Head of the firm of Rieter-Biedermann. 

X The D major symphony was performed by the Dresden Court 
Orchestra on Ash Wednesday, March 6, at the Royal Opera House. 



meekly from one of the most assiduous of your crowd 
of incense-burners. On this cheerful assumption I 
venture to proceed. 

You were so sweet and good at Schillerstrasse, 
and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed hearing you 
talk in the window-seat (after spilling all that liqueur), 
and setting my good brother's little paradoxes to 
rights with your convincing logic. Then the name 

of that worm cropped up, and, sure enough, you 

treated us to the old story of his praising Heinrich's 
quartet* and, in the same winter, dismissing yours 
(the B|?)t with contempt — all this with a certain com- 
placent irony, as who should say : Of course the man 
has made a fool of himself for all time. Now it was 
no impartial third person to whom you were speaking, 
but just the one man whom you know to be the first 
to laugh at such an ignoramus ; no puffed-up creature 
intending to make England the centre of his activities, 
whose opinion of himself needs modification, but one 
who does not think himself worthy to unlace your 
boots, a seeker, a humble learner, who is a thousand 
times more vexed by such over-rating than by the 
most withering adverse criticism, simply because he 
learns nothing from it. I cannot understand how you — 
you who ought to be quite indiff'erent to such incidents 
— could twice be guilty of such ungenerosity (I can 
only call it that), and it hurts me even more on your 
account than on Heinrich's, sad as it is that you should 
so misjudge him. I was quite ready to pick this 
quarrel with you last year, but Heckmannt happened 

* One of the three pubHshed later as Op. 42 by Rieter-Biedermann, 
and dedicated to Brahms. 

t The Quartet in B flat, Op. 67. 

t Robert Heckmann (1848- 1891), violinist and leader of a string 


to be there, and I could not find a suitable occasion. 
Also I was a little afraid of being suppressed by some 
cool witticism, though I should not fear that now. 
But let me tell you straight out that it was neither 
kind nor just in you, and therefore so unlike you that 
I can only hope it was a drop of alien blood, which 
you may now get rid of by opening that particular 
small vein without the least danger of bleeding to 
death ! 

The worst that can befall me is to have you say 
again pityingly, * Poor child ! poor child !' while you 
think : If one had to consider one's words to that 
extent ! But, don't you see, it is really rather a 
different matter when the person you misjudge and 
wound is just the one who would lay down his life for 
you, who loves you as a poodle or a child loves, or as a 
Catholic loves his patron saints, even though he may 
not have the gift of showing it. But it is I who suffer 
most in this case, and I assure you he knows nothing 
of this audacious lecture, but goes to sleep with a good 
conscience, assured that it will all come right with 
sunrise. His wife is a bit of a firebrand, however, and 
cannot resist flaring up in your face. You deserve it 
this time, too. But I feel sad as well as angry; for 
nothing distresses me more than to bear a grudge 
against one on whom I should like to heap kindness 
without reserve, respect without measure. 

I know you don't mean to be cruel at such times. It 
is a kind of * black dog ' (no intimate acquaintance, 
thank Heaven !) on your back which prompts these 
speeches, so deadly in their power to wound others. 
If you knew how deadly, you would give them up ; for 
you are kind enough at bottom, and would never 
consciously throw scorn on true affection. 



So do pull up this weed in your garden, and, above 
all, don't hate me for this interminable letter. Women 
never can be brief, you know. 

Until I have just one kind short line from you (you will 
then be absolved for a whole year!), I shall soothe my 
Herzeleid with your Choral-Vorspiel* which I am happy 
to say I know by heart, and can play to myself in the 
dusk. — My profound respects to Johannes Brahms, 
and — a hearty shake of his hand. 


33. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] March 13, 1878. 
# * * * # 

. . . Well, in future I will take no notice of your most 
cutting remarks. It would, however, be better if you 
reformed a little. . . . Very many thanks for the 
Herzeleide-Vorspiel. We are so fond of it that it gives 
us quite a peculiar pleasure to possess a morsel of it in 
the living form of your handwriting. I drummed it 
through to Kirchner when he was here with Astor, and 
roused him to great enthusiasm. I can't get over the 
way everything is expression in this piece. You can sit 
down and revel in it without ever having enough, and 
all the art in it seems designed solely to heighten the 
pathos. . . . 

Herr H , the high-priest of Dresden critics, is of 

course at a loss to understand why the first part of the 

* Ch or al-Vor spiel and Fugueiov organ on ' Traurigkcit, Hcrzeleid,' 
which was pubhshed as a supplement to the Musikalisches Wochenblatt. 

f Brahms's answer to this letter is missing. It is obvious from 
the following letter that he did reply, and succeeded in appeasing 
Frau von Herzogenberg. 


first movement of the D major is repeated. He also 

inquires why you don't confine yourself to chamber 

music, in which you have done some really good work, 

and incidentally try your hand at musical drama, that 

main stream into which all currents must inevitably 

flow ! You are aware, I suppose, that the theme of the 

Adagio is slightly contrapuntal ? They made a lot of 

charming discoveries about you in Dresden, but they 

admit the great success. I wish they would abuse you 

instead, the idiots ! Fancy classifying Riese's* singing 

as refined, sincere, and in the spirit of Beethoven ! 

After all, public performances are horrid. Who are 

all these people, I should like to know ? — Good-bye, 

you kind person. Do really reform ; it is well worth 


Elisabet H. 

If I only knew what you had scratched out at the 
bottom ! 

34. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, March, 1878.] 

My dear Friend, — Here is the Nottebohmf docu- 
ment, which I prefer not to keep back until the spirit 
moves me to letter-writing. 
... I will just add many thanks for the quartet.t 
A mere glance through it has done me good, and 
I am looking forward to a pleasant hour with it this 
evening. — In great haste, yours sincerely, 

J. Br. 

* A tenor from the Dresden Opera, who sang Beethoven's A n die 
feme Geliebte at the same concert at which the Brahms symphony 
was performed. 

t See note, Letter 3. % The quartet mentioned in Letter 32, 


35. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 3, 1878.] 

The undersigned begs to inform his esteemed patrons 

that letters addressed poste restante, Naples, will find him 

from April 14th to 20th.* From the 20th onwards — 

Rome. He travels with Billroth,! and requests orders 

for writing letters, amputating legs, or anything in the 

world. Orders carefully executed by himself and 

companion. Further plans — none. Will probably be 

back in Vienna by the middle of May. — Etc. Kindest 


J. Br. 

36. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, April 9, 1878.] 

My dear Friend, — It was very nice of you to give 
us a sign before leaving for Italy. I hope you will 
thoroughly enjoy viewing the) Promised Land through 
your own eyes, not those of Adolf Staar+ and his 

* Brahms started on his first ItaHan tour on April 8, accompanied 
by Billroth and Goldmark. Goldmark stayed behind in Rome to 
superintend the final rehearsals of his opera, The Queen of Sheba, 
while the other two went on to Naples, Billroth being anxious that 
Brahms should gain a thorough impression of Italy. ' I should be 
quite content to have seen Rome,' wrote poor Brahms to Ernst Frank. 
' On the way back we shall see it, and anything else that turns up, 
with thorough desultoriness.' On the return journey he stayed for 
some time at Portschach, where he found his Viennese friends. 
Dr. Kupelwieser and Dr. Franz. 'The first day was so delightful 
that I had to stay one more,' he wrote to Arthur Faber. * But the 
second day was so delightful that I have settled down altogether for 
the present.' 

t Theodor Billroth (1829-1894), the famous Viennese surgeon, a 
passionate music-lover, and an intimate friend of Brahms since their 
first meeting at Zurich in 1866. 

J Adolf Staar, a well-known writer on Italy. 


aesthetic followers. I must confess I have not read 
them. Swallowing impressions second-hand, when 
one would so much prefer tasting them oneself some 
day, is too maddening. I can't conceive of you as a 
tourist — that is, as a person setting out to enjoy things 
— your usual function being to provide enjoyment for 
others. Now you suddenly forsake the passive for the 
active role. How fresh it all will be, and how greedily 
you will absorb all the beauty at which you have had 
up to now the rare good sense not to nibble ! 

We heard yesterday from Frau Schumann of your 
Italian journey, and should have written to congratulate 
you to-day even without your card. We think, all the 
same, that you are having a prodigious spell of idle- 
ness. What in the world will become of us if you give 
your pen too long a rest ? 

Unlike you, we are not having a gay time — at least, 
I am not. We have just returned from my poor old 
uncle's funeral at Dresden. . . . 

You will be wondering why I am writing on these 
scraps of paper. I left the key of my writing-table in 
Dresden, and am condemned to sit before locked 
drawers, cut off from pens, ink and paper, and all 
that makes life worth living. My only resource is a 
small copying-case which my brother has given me. 
It has the advantage of registering double every- 
thing one writes, but to appreciate that one must 
be writing lists for the laundress or be a celebrity. 
Happy you, who are out of reach of my double 
letters ! Otherwise I might have sent you the first 
movement of the D major, written out from memory, 
which I want you to be so good as to look at 
some day. Frau Schumann goes so far as to call it 
quite a possible pianoforte arrangement, but I can't 


altogether trust the dear woman, who is too good for 
this world. Well, as it happens, you escape this inflic- 
tion, a further cause for congratulation. So dear Frau 
Schumann has decided on Frankfurt.* I only pray she 
may be anything like as happy there as she deserves. 
. . . And Arthur ?t Is he there ? You do not 
mention him any more than the chamberlain of the 
Queen of Sheba.t 

And now accept all our good wishes. We really are 
very glad that you are having such a good time. 
I hope the sunny Italian landscape will smile on you 
as effectually as did the Carinthian, so that you bring 
home as rich a store of melodies as last year. The 
critics will know so well how to account for them all ! 

Good-bye. Be happy, and send an occasional post- 
card our way. — Yours sincerely, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

37. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, May 13, 1878. 

My very dear Friend, — Our poor Holstein§ is sink- 
ing fast, and can only last three or four weeks at most. 
He is in constant agony. The doctors diagnosed it 
first as hardening of the stomach, then as cancer ; no 
cure is possible. His mind is quite clear, however, 
and it is touching to see his thoughtfulness for all 
around him. He is all consolation and courage. I 
never saw a more affecting end. If you could see 
how the poor fellow's eyes light up at every sign of 

* Frau Schumann left Berlin to settle at Frankfurt in 1878, where 
she was Professor at Dr. Hoch's Conservatorium until a few years 
before her death in 1896. 

f Arthur Faber. % Goldmark. § Cf. Letter 29. 


affection from far or near, you would send him some 
last message yourself He has always been so devoted 
to you. Won't you write him a friendly line or two ? 
He is worthy of being mourned by the best of us. 

We see him nearly every day, and have watched the 
dreadfully rapid development of his disease, the germ 
of which he must have carried for years. His appear- 
ance changed quite suddenly. Up to yesterday he 
was inclined to talk, easily amused and interested in 
everything. His unhappy wife* broke down entirely 
after the consultation three weeks ago, when his 
danger was first recognised, and even lost her self- 
possession before him, after bearing up so long in a 
way that astonished us. Now she is as if transfigured 
by his touching attitude. The whole house is like 
some beautiful church where it is good to rest awhile. 
Pain seems less in evidence, and there are gleams of 
inspiration which pierce one to the very soul. 

We know what an interest you took in him, and 
will write again soon. In a few days we leave Leipzig, 
unwillingly enough, and only because we are needed 
elsewhere ; but we shall have news every day. 

My dear wife joins in kindest regards. — Ever yours 



38. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[PoRTSCHACH, May 17, 1878.] 

My GOOD Friend, — Your sad account of poor Holstein 
was so unexpected that I was as much shocked as 

* Hedwig von Holstein, nSc Salomon (1819-1897), whose fine 
character Helene von Vesque has immortalized in her novel Eine 


pained. I find it hopeless to write to him, or even to 
her. Were I in similar case, I should not expect it 
from my best friend. Yet I know that women demand 
such consolation ; and I therefore ask you to act as 
my interpreter for the moment. She is bound to feel 
your departure very keenly, poor thing ! Personal 
sympathy is the greatest comfort after all, and a real 
help ; but writing to inquire for news, when you know 
it can only be bad and have no hope of improvement, 
is tragic. ... I seem to remember your telling me 
you were going to stay with Dr. Oberhofer in Vienna ? 
I met him in Rome and was reminded of it. 

I should be able to see you in Vienna, unless I had 
to go to Dusseldorf after all.* 

Give my love to the poor invalid. What will his 
unfortunate wife do when it is all over ? Who will 
help her over the first terrible days ? Is Frau Dr. 
Seeburgt there? Kindest regards. — Yours, 

J. Brahms. 

* Brahms was to have gone to Dusseldorf at Whitsuntide to 
conduct his second symphon}^ at the Fifty-fifth Lower Rhine Festival, 
but gave it up, nominally on a question of clothes, actually because 
he could not tear himself from his work, being in a productive mood. 
On May 20 he writes to Arthur Faber : ' They want me to go to 
Germany for the Festival, which means a dress-coat and decollete ! 
I must think it over.' In July he writes to Frau Bertha Faber : 
' First your husband fails to send me an old coat ; then, instead of a 
nice waistcoat, he sends one that could only have been left hanging 
in the cupboard by an oversight. I should have been obliged to buy 
a new one at Dusseldorf, and have o« that account declined to go — the 
only thing to do in my circumstances.' Obviously, these excuses are 
not meant to be taken seriously. Joachim conducted in his place. 
The symphony was enthusiastically received, and the third movement 
had to be repeated. 

"I" Frau von Holstein's sister. 


39. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Arnoldstein im Gailtale] 

Haus Samek, August 10, 1878. 

My dear Friend, — The worthy bearer of these lines 
is also taking a hat to Portschach, which you will be 
so kind as to appropriate for your own use. It is 
own brother to that hat of Heinrich's, to which you 
took rather a fancy, and will press less heavily on 
your forehead than your dark felt. My mother had 
another in her trunk, and is quite delighted to present 
it to you. Knowing your taste, I should like to have 
sewn a ribbon round it, but it would spoil the style, 
and therefore cannot be done ! . . . 

We still feast on those happy hours when we were 
rain-bound at your house. I am so glad you allowed 
me to bring the motet* to Arnoldstein, for my stupid 
eyes are slow at taking in anything of that sort right 
down to the smallest details. First I have only a 
delicious vague impression, such as one receives on 
entering the nave of a cathedral, at sunset, say ; all is 
light and colour with just a hint of the glorious art 
which must have conceived the whole effect. But to 
see it all with understanding eyes takes leisure and 
daylight. Once I am imbued with the spirit of it, I 
can single out each separate feature, each beautiful 
line, for the object of my devotions, and I know of 
nothing more enjoyable. 

Our little English friend t has just written me that 

* Warum ist das Licht gegebcn den Miihseligcn ? from two motets 
for mixed chorus, unaccompanied, Op. 74, No. i, published by 
Simrock, 1879. 

t Ethel Smyth, pianist and composer, at that time studying with 
Herzogenberg. Her compositions include three operas : Fatitasio, 
produced at Weimar in 1898; Dcr Wald, on the Continent and at 


she has drilled three entirely unmusical singers so 
thoroughly in the alto, tenor and bass parts of the 
Lieheslieder^^ that they are now able to sing them with 
her quite satisfactorily. She is going to ' inoculate ' 
the folks in her neighbourhood, as she puts it, with 
Brahms, by means of a small concert to include the 
Liebeslieder, Mainacht, Von Eiviger Liehe^\ and the 
Andante from the pianoforte concerto ! She is con- 
vinced she has the most suitable possible programme. 

And now for a favour. My mother is so afraid 
that, if anything happened to our little onej here, we 
should not be able to get a doctor. Are there none in 
Portschach ? Do tell us the name of one. 

Farewell, and let me thank you again for all your 
good deeds. — Yours most sincerely, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

Be sure you come to Arnoldstein ! 

40. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Portschach, August 12, 1878.] 

My dear Friend, — There is only a young consump- 
tive doctor here who is undergoing treatment himself, 
and would certainly not be able to go and see your 

Let me save up all the rest for my visit to Arnold- 
stein : my thanks for your visit to me here, a long 

Covent Garden ; Strandrechi (The Wreckers), at Leipzig and Prague, 
1907 — concert performance under Nikisch in London, 1908 ; 
besides various chamber-music works. 

* Waltzes for pianoforte duet, with vocal quartet ad lib., Op. 52. 

f Two songs from Op. 43. 

X Frau Elisabet's sister. 


argument about the hat (which is really much more 
suitable for H.), and so on. 

Your exchange of the motets* was a surprise — 
unpleasant in so far as your possession of mine goes ; 
pleasant, on the other hand, because it gives me an 
opportunity of looking through the other more care- 
fully. It both demands and repays study. 

Please tell me the name of your house, and whether 
there is a hotel in the place, or which out of many I 
should choose. 

In haste — as you see ; in sincerity — as you know. — 


Johannes Brahms. 

41. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Arnoldstein] August 15, 1878. 

My dear kind Friend, — This is what happened about 
the motets. When you gave us your gracious permis- 
sion to bring the dear songs here with us, I said, half 
to myself, ' And the motet ?' As you made no reply, I 
took it for silent consent, and slipped it in with the 
rest. But it has been well taken care of, and is returned 
to you herewith in good condition after beingthoroughly 
petted by us. Don't, don't be angry. I am wholly re- 
sponsible for the theft, but I really thought you winked 
at it consciously. 'Why, why't should you grudge 
me this incomparable pleasure ? I cannot get over my 
delight in the first movement. I will say nothing of the 
first paget or the second right down to the ^H^hy 7 but, 

* She had sent Brahms one of her husband's motets in place of 
his own. Four of Herzogenberg's motets were pubHshed by Rieter- 
Biedermann as Op. 103. 

t The motet opens with the words Warum f Warum f 

X p. 7 of the score, bars 8 and 12. 


oh, the glorious setting of the words 'and cometh not'! 
The syncopation in the alto, especially the suspended 
E, is too adorable. Then the crossing of the soprano 
and alto — but I will spare you an exclamation mark 
after every single bar. 

We are staying with the innkeeper Grum, but he 
has only one other room beside our two. However, 
there are not many visitors, and this one is almost 
certain to be empty. There is another inn— but it 
would be best to send us a line before you come, so 
that Heinrich can arrange something. We find Arnold- 
stein very pleasant and 'very cheerfully situate,' as 
3^our trashy old book says.* As drawbacks we have 
so far only discovered swarms of flies and ducks, 
and a detachment of cavalry stationed here, which 
seems out of place in so peaceful a landscape. The 
advantages are many : luxuriant vegetation, extra- 
ordinarily fine beeches, sweeping firs, air clearer than 
at Velden, and the fascinating Gailtal hills in the 
distance, with Dobratsch sharply outlined in the fore- 
ground. It is a very good place to vegetate in. But 
there is no fish, alas for you ! Delight the hearts of 
your faithful Herzogenbergs with a message before 

42. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[PORTSCHACH, September 7, 1878.] 

Dear Friend, — I expect to arrive at Arnoldstein 
to-morrow, Sunday, at 1 1 . 2 1 . If my note arrives before 
me, and should you be inclined for an expedition to 
Tarvis, Weissenfels, or anywhere, be at the station 
and take a ticket for me with yours. Otherwise I 

* Valvasor, Chronicle of Carinthia. 


shall stay at Arnoldstein, for you cannot have left for 

good yet. — Yours, 


(This is for H. and El. of course.) 

43. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Arnoldstein, September 12, 1878. 

My dear, good Friend,— In case you have not had 
a letter, I write to say that I have just heard from 
Eugenie.* Her mother is not at Kiel, of which there 
seems to be no further question, but at Rudesheim for 
a few days, hoping to cure her arm t in the more bracing 
air there. She goes to Frankfurt at the end of the 
week, where Marie,t meanwhile, has been moving in. 
Felix's§ condition seems to be very critical. One lung 
is past saving, Eugenie says, while there is 'just a 
possibility ' of curing the other. They propose now 
to take him to the Home at Falkenstein close to Frank- 
furt. Eugenie is to go over with him the end of this 
week to inspect the place, and will leave him there if 
he takes to it. 

I must thank you again for your very kind visit to 
us. You know we can't be wildly demonstrative, but 
it is to be hoped you can see without that how happy 

* Eugenie Schumann, fourth and youngest daughter of Robert 
and Clara Schumann. 

t Frau Schumann suffered from nervous rheumatic pains in her 
arm for several years, and was sometimes prevented from playing. 
Dr. Esmarch, of Kiel, treated her for this. 

% The eldest daughter. 

§ The youngest and most promising son, born when Schumann 
was in the asylum at Endcnich, He provided the words for Brahms's 
songs. Op. 63, Nos. 5 and 6, and Op. 26, No. 5. He died of con- 
sumption in 1879. 


it makes us to have you. Walking out with you, Herr 
Doctor, is not only an honour and a pleasure, but 
a heartfelt delight for us. Since your train steamed 
away, we have gone back to our quiet life. Hilde- 
brand* has not put in an appearance yet, so our one 
distraction in the midst of our communion with nature 
and our work in this shabby little room is the very 
precious memory of the days you spent with us. You 
were so very good to my Heinz. He is sitting bent 
over his quartet paper now, and thinking, as he makes 
tails to his notes for the new theme and variations, that 
a word from John the Baptist's lips is worth more than 
a hundred essays on 'Style in Composition,'! even 
were they written by the Almighty himself! 

I am suffering from an intermittent fever in three 
minor keys — B, Fjf and At — a fever for which my old 
cookery-book has no remedy. 

Oh yes, there are all sorts of ghosts haunting our 
rooms, and we are superstitiously concerned not to 
scare them away. . . . But good-bye for to-day. Send 
us your address to Hosterwitz, near Dresden, or to 
Leipzig, will you ? And keep a corner in your affec- 
tions for us. It makes us happier than almost anything 
to think you do. — Always your sincerely, 

Elisabet H. 

* Adolf Hildebrand (b. 1847), the isculptor, who executed the 
Brahms monument at Meiningen, the relief figures on the tombs of 
the two Herzogenbergs, and the bust photographed in this book. 

t Richard Pohl (1826- 1896), the voluble Wagner apostle, was 
bringing out a series, ^Esthetic Letters to a Young Musician^ in the 
Musikalisches Wochenblatt, with the title In which Style ought we to 
Compose f 

% The keys of three pianoforte pieces, published in 1879 as 
Op. 76 (Nos. I and 2 of book i., and No. 7 of book ii.), which Brahms 
had played to them when at Arnoldstein. 


44. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[PoRTSCHACH, September 14, 1878.] 
Frau Puck, 

Tradesman's wife, 


(at Empergers, the Baker's.) 

This is the address as I have it from our postmistress.* 
Kindest regards, also thanks for your letter and for my 
pleasant visit (I am thanking the young lady in the 
same breath). 

' Miss Post-Office ' has just volunteered, to my 
horror, that the tea is not considered good now. 
Well, you can but try Frau Puck, and don't blame 
me if it's bad. ^ T Br 

45. Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, October 4, 1878. 

Dearest Friend, — How easy it would be for me 
to appropriate your motett now, for the only proof 
of your authorship is the royal leonine touch. And 
where is the court of arbitration that could settle the 
matter ? Being an honest fellow, however, I propose 
that you should often give me your things to copy out. 
You could then feel secure, and sleep in peace without 
rummaging among your piles of manuscript paper. 

We are all on heaps here, and smothered in dust. 
I am porter while my wife cooks. But we begin to 
see daylight, and shall soon settle down to our com- 
fortable old routine. 

* Frau Werzer, manageress of the hotel and post-office at Port- 
schach, with whom Brahms was on excellent terms. ' Miss Post- 
Office ' was the name he gave her daughter. 

t See Letters 39-41. 



While you were at Leipzig* we spent one day in 
Vienna, and now it is just the other way round. It is 
almost like the fairy-tale in which everyone wants to 
change places. But the memory of our meeting in 
Carinthia and the prospect of seeing you in January 
and hearing your violinf keeps us up. A man here, 
who is too clever by half, told me you had written a 
third symphony ; it was in G minor. Did you know ? 
Kindest regards from us both. — Yours most sincerely, 


{P.S. from Elisabet von Herzogenberg.) 

Guess who has perpetrated a symphony ? You 
can't? — Richard Wagner! J So we shall have it at 
last, the long-looked-for model which is to ' deliver ' us 
from the repetition of the first part, and unfold to us 
in a series of arabesques the mystic form without 
form. We are looking forward to the unholy din and 
the chatter of the so-called critics, although it is rather 
a case for tears. All the philistines are wild with 
delight over Siegfried and Goiter ddmmervmg, and of all 
the attractions the Fair offers this is the most popular. 
They hardly know whether to admire Wilt§ or Fafner 

We found much to depress us on our return. Poor 

♦ Brahms had been invited to the Hamburg Musical Festival 
(September 25-28), on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the 
Philharmonic Society. He conducted his second symphony on the 
third evening, and called at Leipzig on his way back. 

+ The Violin concerto, Op. 77, and the VioHn sonata, Op. 78, were 
commenced in the summer of 1878, and finished late in the autumn. 

% A symphony composed in 1832, and performed in the following 
year at Prague and Leipzig, which was revived in 1878 for a short time. 

§ Marie Wilt (1833-1891), prima donna at the Court Theatre, 
Vienna, who ook the part of Briinnhilde at Leipzig. 


Engelmann is seriously ill, and his illness has a ghastly 
name. But he seems to be improving, and his wife is in 
better spirits. The dear old man lies on the sofa, with- 
out a suspicion of the real nature of his illness, fretting 
over his helplessness and finding his chief amusement 
in a charming little Venus and Cupid which he has 
had painted. 

Our little English friend* is staying with little Emma 
at Utrecht, where she is blissfully happy and can hear 
the Horn trio and the C minor quartet ;t but we shall 
be able to deliver your messages to Limburgert very 
soon. When, oh when, are you coming to Humboldt- 
strasse ? We want you badly. We often feel our- 
selves such fish out of water among the philistines 

here. — Kindest regards from 

The Wife. 

46. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] October 18, 1878. 

My dear Friend, — Are you really conducting at 
Breslau on the 24th ? I can hardly believe the report, 
and am convinced you will turn up here next Thursday 
through some trap -door or other. Your presence 
would be chief of all the pleasures that have been 
devised for Frau Schumann§ and you surely would 

* Miss Ethel Smyth. t Brahms, Op. 40 and Op. 60. 

J Director of the Gewandhaus committee. 

§ The jubilee to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Frau Schu- 
mann's first public appearance (at a concert given in the Gewandhaus 
by Caroline Verlthaler, a pianist from Graz) on October 20, 1878. A 
concert in her honour had been arranged at the Gewandhaus on the 
14th, consisting of Schumann's works, at which a golden laurel-wreath 
was to be presented to her. Brahms was not able to be present, as 
he was conducting at Breslau on the 22nd (his second symphony), 
and playing in his A major quartet on the 24th. 




not hurt the dear woman by staying away on this 

occasion. Please send me a line, so that we can enjoy 

the prospect of seeing you, and get the coffee roasted. 

Unfortunately, we cannot put you up this time ; that 

pleasure is reserved for January. One of my spare 

rooms has measles, and is at present peeling, while 

Filu* is in posession of the other. — Yours in haste, but 

very sincerely, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

47. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig] November 17, 1878. 









V.--^ A 

ha - ben Sie Er - bar - men 
• ft 







/—- ■; 




mal doch 


mir Ar - men 




schik - ken Sie 

mir end - lich 




* Marie Fillunger. 



+ + 


smarsanao 1^ v 1 




die , . er - sehn - ten In 

ter - mez - zi !* 








E. H. 

48. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

Vienna, November^ 1878. 

This is all I can send for the moment. The Romanze 
you sing so charmingly! is not there, I am sorry to say, 
for my copyist has no time. So if you wish to keep 
either of these, you will have to bespeak a pen in 
Leipzig and send me back my copy in due course 

What a pity I have no long letter to answer ! I 
should so enjoy it. — Yours most sincerely, 

J. Brahms. 

49. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] December 13, 1878. 
My dear Friend, — I wonder if you set me down as 
the wretch I am conscious of being for keeping the 

* * Oh, have pity on my misery, and send the longed-for Intermezzi!' 
Brahms had played some of his new Capriccios and Intermezzi 
(Op. 76) to the Herzogenbergs on his visit to Arnoldstein in September, 
and the above is a reminiscence of the Intermezzo in A minor, second 
part. It may be taken as a proof of Frau von Hcrzogenberg's 
remarkably quick ear and retentive memory. 

t Refers to the song in the previous letter. Brahms sent this 
particular piece later, with the inscription Romanze fiir 1 zaric 
Fraucnsiimmen unci 2 zarten Fraucnzimmcrn gewidmct. 


longed-for pianoforte pieces without a word of thanks. 
I assure you, I am as ashamed as any poodle, and as 
terrified as — what shall I say? — lest you should 
refrain from sending me another line to the end of 
your days. Of course I could reel out yards of excuses 
to justify myself, but I prefer not, for there could be 
no adequate excuse for such neglect. You see, I am 
at least conscious of my guilt, and I implore your 
forgiveness, indulgence, pardon, and all the rest. 

And, do you know, the dear pieces are still with the 
copyist — our Leipzig copyists are such slowcoaches — 
but I will really send them off to-morrow. The one 
in B minor, "^ which I kept back because it gave me 
such untold pleasure to practise it, is now being 
copied out for me by our little English friend.f Please 
note, however, that I have only one very nice little 
English girl. 

And now, do tell me, is the violin concerto really 
not finished ? We heard a wail to that effect from 
Utrecht, but refuse to believe it. It looks so unlike 
you to promise more than you can carry out ; and you 
did promise us the concerto at Arnoldstein — dear old 
sleepy Arnoldstein, where we had so much time for 
counterpoint ! Here I am cook and charwoman by 
turns, have a terrific weight of housekeeping on my 
shoulders, and only sit down to the piano in an occa- 
sional breathing-space. For many reasons do I look 
forward to January, therefore ; I shall have a person 
who can cook, and hope to become a normal being 
again myself You will come in any case, concerto or 
no concerto ? But I must stop. She gives me no 
peace, the B minor copyist. If you want to see some- 
thing beautiful, look at the last eight bars. We play 
* Capriccio, Op. 76, No. 2. f Miss Ethel Smyth. 


them over and over, and can never have enough of 

I am going to play them to the Utrecht Engelmanns 
shortly. What a triumph to forestall Emma for once ! 

My favourite, now and for ever, is the F sharp 
minor.* I flatter myself that I really appreciate it, 
and should play it exquisitely if I were any sort of 
a pianist. 

But good-bye. I know I shall not get the Rornanze 
now, for my sins, any more than the C sharp minor.t 

Heinrich sends messages (he is working very hard), 

and Ethel Smyth too. She does the prettiest gavottes 

and sarabandes. Write and tell us when you are 

coming, so that we can look forward to it. — Your 



50. Brahms to Elisahet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, December 15, 1878.] 

My dear Friend, — I really only wanted to know 
whether you had received the music, as it would have 
been awkward if you had not. You will certainly have 
forgotten to pepper the pate de foie gras over your 
many excuses. If Utrecht Engelmann is over, how 
would it be to offer him the B minor for his Emma ? 
You either can't or won't believe that I am too modest 
to ingratiate myself by these delicate attentions. 

But I have a particular request, and should be glad 
to hear, by post-card, whether you will undertake to 
fulfil it in its entirety. Every day I try to get a letter 
written to Consul Limburger, but I should prefer it 
so much if you or Herzogenherg would go and see 

* Op. 76, No. I, t Op. 'jG, No. 5. 


him, and make him understand that I would rather not 
come at New Year. Joachim is coming here, and I 
should have a chance of trying the concerto through 
with him, and deciding for or against a public per- 
formance. If we do that, and are fairly satisfied with 
it, you can still hear it afterwards. The Consul also 
invited me to conduct the C minor,* etc., and I am not 
inclined to do that either. What is your conductor 
there for, after all ! There is some sense in conducting 
one's own works before they are printed, but only 

Joachim is very busy, and we, like you, suffer from 
overworked copyists. He will get his part, properly 
written out, to-morrow for the first time, but he has 
a big concert on hand for the 29th, and so on. Tell 
the Consul all this, and pile it on. In any case, it is my 
earnest request that you will see Limburger without 
delay, so that I can feel as if I had, in a way, given him 
his answer at last. 


You might, after all, take a sheet of paper instead of 
a post-card, and tell me whether the University vaca- 
tions have begun in Holland, or whether there is 
anything worse at the back of Utrecht Engelmann's 
visit to you. 

Grieg t was in Leipzig, too. How did he get on? 
I read a bad account of him in Rieter's paperj just 
now — which looks hopeful ! 

* The first symphony, which was to be performed again at the 
Gewandhaus on New Year's Day. 

•j- Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), Norwegian composer. 

X The Allgemeine Musikalischc Zeitung, published by the firm 
Ricter-icdermann, was founded in 1866, and withdrawn in 1882 ; 
edited from 1869 onwards by Friedrich Chrysander. 


But I am letting my pen run away with me to-day. 
Many apologies ; it is too late to alter anything now. — 
Yours in haste and sincerely, j gj^ 

51. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] December 15, 1878 * 

Dear Friend, — Most regretfully do I return your 
beautiful music. If you will signify my restoration 
to favour by sending me the C sharp minor and the 
Romanze after all, I shall be your devoted slave, and I 
promise to return them within twenty-four hours. . . . 

I have just had bad news from the Engelmanns. 
They were quite cheerful a few days ago ; the Pro- 
fessor thought it quite possible his father might recover 
for a time. But there has been a sudden change for 
the worse, and he seemed to fear yesterday that the 
poor old man might not last the night. The women- 
folk know nothing of this, and the invalid is still buoyed 
up by various consoling delusions. I am just going 
there, and will let you know of any change. 

Good-bye, and keep us in your thoughts. I suppose 
my letter and photograph, sent shortly after our return, 
never reached you, as you reproach me (who am a 
confirmed babbler) for not writing. Thank you again 
for the piano pieces, which are my greatest joy. 
Remember us to the Fabers, who have not forgotten 
us, i nope. Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

Your photographs went like anything at the bazaar 
for a pound apiece. The girl who sold them asked 
quite innocently whether the inscription were not a 
piece of satire ! — In haste, Yhe Same 

* The note-paper bears the motto : * Postponed is not abandoned.' 


52. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December 21, 1878.] 

You really take everything far too seriously. If 
Herzogenberg has not committed himself irrevocably 
with the Consul, I may say that Joachim is quite keen 
on playing the concerto, so it may come off after all. 
I am against having the symphony* on the same 
evening, because the orchestra will be tired as it is, 
and I don't know how difficult the concertof will prove. 
I expect to be in Berlin by the 28th to rehearse it on 
the piano with Joachim — though I can stay here if you 
don't approve ! The concerto is in D major, which 
should be taken into consideration in arranging the 
programme. Indeed I received your photograph, un- 
grateful wretch that I am ! 


* Cf. Letter 50, note. 

f The concerto for violin, for which Joachim had provided finger- 
ing and bowing marks. Brahms had written in the autumn saying 
that liis first impulse had been to ' offer his fingers ' for Joachim's 
concert in Vienna, and keep back the violin concerto ; but his dis- 
inclination for concert-playing was too deep-rooted, and he had 
grown used to playing with himself as sole audience. Yet he hated 
to think of Joachim's playing in Austria, while he ' stood there doing 
nothing,' and the only alternative was to conduct the Violin concerto. 
Would it be true hospitality to send him the score with a proper 
copy of the solo part ? The middle movements had been discarded 
('they were the best, of course'), but he was putting in a 'feeble 
adagio.' * We might as well give them the pleasure at Leipzig,' he 
adds ; ' we could hold a consultation here at the piano.' The result 
of the consultation was exceedingly favourable, and the new work 
was able to be included in the concert programme for New Year's 
Day at Leipzig. Brahms went to Berlin on December 18, and from 
there to Leipzig with Joachim. 


53. Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] December 23, 1878. 

My very dear Friend, — I was just about to sit 
down and write you the result of my talk with 
Limburger, when to our surprise and delight your 
post-card arrived. I wrote off to Limburger without a 
moment's delay, but have had no reply up to now. He 
was going to meet the committee to decide upon the 
programme the following afternoon. Fortunately, he 
had telegraphed to Joachim earlier, and secured him 
for the first of January, so we have come out of this 
exciting time fairly well on the whole. 

I almost think you have put off the journey to Berlin 
too late. The rehearsals, the final rehearsal at least, 
will in consequence fall immediately before the concert. 
Would it not be better to go straight there imme- 
diately after Christmas, say on the 27th, and to come 
on here for the first rehearsal ? I will inquire and let 
you know the exact day for which it is fixed. You 
will only want five first violin parts, five second, three 
violas and eight basses (or, if these are copied 
separately, five 'celli and three double-basses). Let 
me at this point formally invite your trunk to stay with 
us, for you will probably like to be in its immediate 
neighbourhood — possibly in our spare room. 

I am not going to bother about the keys; the concerto 

may be in G sharp minor, for all I know ! But you 

will surely write to Limburger yourself? I didn't 

exactly promise that you would, but I let it be taken for 

granted. — With kindest regards from us both, yours 




[Postscript by Elisabet von Herzogenberg.) 

December 22. 

Poor old Herr Engelmann died this morning at three 
o'clock very peacefully. It was like falling asleep. 

And he was just one of those who cling to life ! 

I am going there this afternoon, and am dreading 
seeing those poor women in their trouble. What 
a blessing Utrecht Engelmann is there ! — Kindest 
regards, dear friend, from yours sincerely, 

E. Herzogenberg. 

54. Brahms to Heinrich von Herzogenberg. 

[Berlin, December 29, 1878.] 

Dear Friend, — I expect to send off my trunk to- 
morrow, Monday, at two o'clock. Arrival in Leipzig 
timed approximately for 5.30, 5.15, 5. 7 J, or 5.20. I shall 
also see that it is sent to the right street, so mind you 
are near at hand ! — Kindest regards, y gj^ 

55. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, January, 1879.] 

My very dear Friend, — I don't know what sort of 
an opinion you have of my tidiness, but don't form one 
on the strength of the question which I have to ask. 

Did your brother ever entrust the manuscript of 
Chopin's mazurka. Op. 41, No. 2, in E minor, to me ?* 
A pile of the various editions and manuscripts of this 
mazurka has been accumulating here for ages, and 

* The manuscript was the property of Messrs. H artel {cf. Letter 16). 


yesterday I really tackled it seriously. There is the 
printer's copy of Op. 41 from Hartel, but besides that 
the original manuscript of No. 2. I am not inclined to 
think it belongs to Hartel, for I have a habit of marking 
such things, usually with a faint pencil-mark. In the 
bound volume of mazurkas, for instance, there is your 
brother's name. ... I might multiply excuses and 
pleas for justification, but why trouble about a little 
untidiness when I know to my sorrow how severely 
you judge me on other scores ? 

My concert tour was a real down-hill affair after 
Leipzig;* no more pleasure in it. Perhaps that is a 
slight exaggeration, though, for friends and hospitality 
are not everything on a concert tour. In some trifling 
ways it was even more successful ; the audiences were 
kinder and more alive. Joachim played my piece more 
beautifully with every rehearsal, too, and the cadenza 
went so magnificently at our concert here that the 
people clapped right on into my coda. But what is 
all that compared to the privilege of going home to 
Humboldtstrasse and being pulled to pieces by three 
womenkind — since you object to the word * females '? 

I wish you would not go to Norway. Come to 

Carinthia instead, or go to Baden, where I could meet 

you. We might profit mutually by each other's 

company — it need not be all on my side ! — In haste, 

but with kindest remembrances to the whole party, 

yours very sincerely, 

J. Br. 

* Joachim played the Violin concerto on January 14 in Vienna. 
He then went to England without Brahms, and played it twice by 
request at the Crystal Palace. Meeting Brahms again, they played 
it together at Bremen, Hamburg, and Berlin. 


56. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, April 13, 1879. 

My dear Friend, — My conscience reproaches me 
vaguely with treating you badly, and, indeed, my 
post-card* was but a shabby return for your somewhat 
enigmatical letter. I might fill four pages with excellent 
excuses, but am restrained by my consideration for 
you, so don't be too hard on me. 

The Volklandsf spread a rumour that you might be 
persuaded to call at Leipzig on your way back, and 
this note is an attempt at the said persuasion. People 
who know geography insist that it is the natural route 
to Vienna. I who know no geography can only say 
how delighted we should be to see you again. It seems 
to me, too, that we have some right to expect you, after 
your cavalier treatment of us in January. So please 
be nice, and do your utmost to arrange a peep at 
us. . . . 

I wonder if we shall meet in Carinthia ? We are 
going to Austria, after all, and not to Norway, but shall 
hardly get away before the middle of August, when 
we may go to the Carinthian Alps, in the shadow of 
which I suppose you intend to stay. 

My husband would write and add his petitions to 
mine if he had not just hurt his right hand. As it is, he 
can only send greetings, and say that he endorses every- 
thing I have written. Auf Wiedersehen in Humboldt- 
strasse then, in my blue room ? — Yours very sincerely, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

* The post-card is missing. f C/. Letter i, note. 


57. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Berlin, April 15, 1879.] 

My dear Friend, — The news contained in your 

letter enables me to pass through Leipzig with the 

greatest placidity. It is excellent hearing that you 

have given up the North Cape, and are going to Vienna 

and Graz. I shall see you much more comfortably 

there than now in Leipzig, when I am anxious to get 

home But I shall come to Graz and over hill and 

dale in Carinthia, wherever you like. — In haste, yours 


J. Br. 

58. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, Afril 21, 1879. 

My very dear Friend, — Forgive me for bothering 
you, but could you send back the green volume of 
Chopin, which you routed out the other day, to my 
brother in Dresden, Kaiserstrasse 5 ? I wish I could 
spare you the trouble, by offering to burgle your house 
when we pass through Vienna, and pack it up myself, 
but my brother is keen on having his green book at 
this moment. 

We can understand your passing through Leipzig in 
that mean way, but it was a great disappointment. 
We had foolishly counted on your coming. 

The prospect of meeting you in the mountains is 
consoling, however. I have more faith in Carinthia, as 
you are sure to have left Vienna, when we pass through 
at the end of May, and what should take you to Graz ? 
I should have nothing of you there either, though 


the Thieriots* would — and I ought not to grudge it 

I am enjoying the piano piecesf all the more since I 
made the blissful discovery that the C sharp minor and 
the C major are not so difficult as they look. 

Best love from Heinz, who is beside himself with 
joy at the thought of Carinthia and you. I hardly see 
him all day, he is so frightfully taken up with some 
short sacred part-songs,t which will certainly be 
inflicted on you this summer. He has also written a 
second string trio,§ which sounds extremely well, and, 
what is so very desirable, reads well. 

We were invited to the Kirchners the other day, 
and I was sorry for the rest of the party. He and I 
played duets for over an hour and a half! It was all 
Kirchner, of course, and really duets, especially when 
played at sight, are only entertaining to those directly 
concerned. Dear old Kirchner ! He is a wee bit 
offended every time, because I am always provided 
with something new. ' I don't know why we play the 
things at all,' he says in an injured tone ; * you take 
no interest in them.' Yet he is always so ready to sit 
down at the piano, poor lonely fellow! The duets 
really interest me, too, while I am actually playing 
with him. There are many delightful touches, and 
all his work bears the real musicianly stamp ; but as 
to sitting down to master these miniatures, so senti- 
mental for the most part, playing them over and over 

* Ferdinand Thieriot (b. 1838), composer, and at that time ' artistic 
director' of the Steiermark Musikvercin at Graz. He was a country- 
man of Brahms's, and, like him, a pupil of Eduard Marxsen. 

t Op. 76 had now been published by Simrock. 

X Twelve German sacred folk-songs for mixed chorus, Op. 18. 

§ Second Trio in F for Violin, Viola, and Violoncello, Op. 27. 


to oneself and bringing out the middle voices on the 
keyboard with one's thumbs — who would do it ? 

Kirchner has been giving an organ recital here in 
the Paulinerkirche — by announcement, not by invita- 
tion, for the first time — with an eye, we think, to the 
approaching vacancy at the Thomaskirche. It was a 
pitiful performance : not one item of real organ music, 
but just odd scraps, mostly from Schumann's Pedal- 
piano Studies * and Paradise and the Peri. He steered 
clear of pedal passages, but would hold one pedal 
note for a quarter of an hour while he played shimmer- 
ing modulations on the * echo '. He never began nor 
ended anything properly, but made convenient bridges 
between one fragment and the next by hanging on to 
the notes in a disgraceful way. Really, it was almost 
like hearing an amateur coquet with the stops. One 
or two Bach themes cropped up, only to raise vain 
expectations, for they lasted about three bars, and 
were taken from the Wohltemperiertes Klavier] at that. 
We were much disappointed, for we had thought the 
organ was plane sailing for him. 

But I have something on my mind. What is the 
Vienna Conservatorium like ? Could one advise a young 
student, who is taking up composition, to go there ? . . . 

There are one or two poor fellows here who would 
like to try a change, and have asked Heinrich's advice. 
If it has to be a conservatorium, which should you 
recommend ? Berlin, Frankfurt, or Vienna ? Another 
thing : Is Nottebohm dear for private lessons ? One 
of these young men would prefer that, but is afraid it 
may be beyond his means. I am ashamed to importune 
you in this way, but it is no use going to any but the 

* Op. 56. 

t That is to say, pianoforte, not organ, fugues. — Tr. 



best for advice. . . . Besides, you can answei all these 
questions on one page. 

You are now released with kindest regards, a jubilant 
Aiif Wiedersehen, and the assurance of my boundless 
esteem. — Your chatterbox, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

59. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 29, 1879.] 

My dear Friend, — Forgive me if I only manage to 
reply to your questions. I dare not wait until the 
letter-writing spirit moves me to answer your kind 
and charming letter as it deserves. Briefly then : 
our conservatorium is in a terrible state as regards the 
teaching of composition. You only need to see the 
teachers, and not — as I often do — the pupils and their 

I should not recommend Frankfurt either, just now ; 
Berlin and Munich, possibly, if it has to be a con- 
servatorium at all — you know I am not partial to them ! 
Nottebohm charges three gulden a lesson, so far as 
I know, and we can hardly expect consideration 
from him, as that would imply that he needed it 
from us ! 

* Brahms was for over twenty years a member of the committee, 
formed in 1863, for distributing the stipends granted by the Austrian 
Government for the education and support of young musical talent. 
He had in this capacity ample opportunity of judging the masters 
and students of the Vienna Conservatorium. His conscientiousness is 
shown in the opinions expressed in his marginal notes, some of which 
Hanslick reproduced in the 'Neuc Freie Pressc of June 19, 1897. In 
1884 he complained : ' It is really disgraceful and inexcusable year 
by year to ruin beyond repair the little talent we have.' But the 
circumstances are now considerably improved. 


I can strongly recommend him as a teacher. I send 
him everyone who comes my way, and have often 
had reason to be delighted with his results. 

Be sure you let me know when you are coming to 
Vienna. I should like to run over from Portschach 
for a week, and would fit it in accordingly. I have 
engaged my seven beds* again, and might have been 
there by now, but for the Festival weekt and the 
uncertain weather. 

Don't laugh over the newspaper descriptions of 
the Festival procession. It was beautiful beyond 
expectation and beyond description. 

Your description of Kirchner at the organ is delight- 
ful. He produced for your benefit all the little tricks 
which used to entrance the good Swiss ladies ten or 
twenty years ago.| But the Leipzig churchwardens 
may not have such keen — and pretty — ears as 
yours ! 

Can you, between ourselves, tell me anything par- 
ticular about the post of cantor^ at St. Thomas's ? I 
have to decide, practically without knowing anything 
about it, though I don't think it matters much. 

Excuse this hasty scribble, and accept kindest remem- 
brances for yourself, Heinrich, and our little friend, || 

from yours, 

Johannes Brahms. 

* Brahms sometimes took a whole house in the country for the 
sake of privacy, although he only used two rooms. The summer 
was his best working time. 

f The silver wedding of the Emperor and Empress. 

X Refers to the time when Kirchner was organist at Winterthur. 

§ Brahms had been offered the post of cantor at St. Thomas's, 
once held by Bach. 

II Miss Ethel Smyth. 



60. Elisahet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, May 6, 1879.] 

Dear Friend, — I am touched by your kindness in 
replying so minutely to my questions. We imagined 
the state of things to be such as you describe, and 
Heinrich had strongly advised the young man not to 
try the Vienna Conservatorium. We have considered 
the ca/^^or question and made some inquiries. It would 
be tempting indeed to paint the position in glowing 
colours if there were a chance of getting you here ; 
but, alas ! you have probably given up the idea again. 

The Thomaner have got into slack ways lately, and 
do everything mechanically. There is no temptation 
to go and hear the Saturday motet* nowadays. But, 
of course, the late directorf was much too old ; anyone 
able to infuse new life into them would find good 
healthy material enough, and be able to do great 
things. There is every possible facility offered for 
securing good performances, as, for instance, carte 
blanche in the way of orchestral rehearsals, of which 
Richter took no advantage. Rontgen trembles even 
now to think how often he may be summoned, once 
a proper cantor comes who will insist on his privilege 
as regards the town orchestra. But we can only think 
of the possibility of having you here among us as a 
beautiful dream, for we cannot conceive of your really 
accepting the post, although it would have its advan- 
tages. But what would become of your delightful 

* The motet sung at St. Thomas's by the famous choir every 
Saturday is an old-estabUshed and very popular institution. — Tk. 

t Ernst Friedrich Richter (1808-1879), a distinguished theorist, 
follower of Moritz Hauptmann, was cantor at the choir school from 
1868 until his death. 


summer holiday, your beloved Portschach, with its lake 
from whose waves there rise D major symphonies and 
violin concertos, beautiful as any foam-born goddess ! 
No, we cannot imagine you here, however desirable it 
may be for us and for Leipzig to have you descend 
on us like a whirlwind. By the way, it was common 
knowledge that the cantorship had been offered you 
before you wrote about it. To think of having you 
for OUT cantor / What could be more splendid? . . . 
Good-bye now, and forgive this hurried scribble. Many 
thanks again for your most kind letter. Are you really 
going to Holland for the Festival ? Our ' little ' friend 
is one of many who hope you may. Heinrich joins 
her and myself in kindest remembrances, and we wish 
with all the fervour of our concentrated selfishness 
that you would come here. There are such nice sunny 
apartments in this neighbourhood ! — Yours ever, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

61. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Graz, July 25, 1879. 
My dear Herr Brahms, — We have been tied here 
since the beginning of June for double family reasons, 
and shall not get away to our dear mountains until the 
beginning of August. We should have liked to go to 
Carinthia again, but fate has decided otherwise. Frau 
Schumann goes to Gastein at the end of July, and, as 
we have no other plans, we shall do ourselves the 
pleasure of joining her there, as we have told her. 
We shall be at Bockstein, half an hour from Gastein, 
from the 7th to the 14th of August, staying with relatives, 
and shall visit the mineral baths virtuously. My original 
plan was to look you up at PSrtschach on the way, pro- 


ceeding to Gastein by way of Spital and Mallnitz (Hohe 
Tauern). But I can't expose my wife to the fatigue of 
an eight-hour ride on horseback, and must therefore 
give up Carinthia altogether. You need not be angry, 
for it hits us hard enough. 

You are sure to pay Frau Schumann a visit, how- 
ever. How would it be if you arranged for us to meet 
you at Gastein ? Do think it over, and give us the 

Don't leave us in the dark as to your decision, either, 
but write soon and tell us you agree, and will do it. — 
Ever your faithful Herzogenberg. 

62. Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

Graz, July 31, 1879. 

My very dear Friend,— As you intend coming to 
join us, and are not afraid of the twelve hours' train 
journey, I am bound to provide entertainment for you 
on the way. When you get into the carriage at Port- 
schach, take out the music enclosed in this cover and 
abuse it to your heart's content — always provided you 
have nothing better to do or to read, and are tired of 
looking out at the green landscape. The melodies and 
the words are taken from F. M. Bohme's Old German 
Liederhuch.^ Except for some slight variations, I have 
kept to his version, and am making him responsible for 

* Franz Magnus Bohme (1827-1898), theorist, published his Ali- 
deutsches Liedcrbudi, a collection of songs and melodies, in 1877. 
This was followed in 1893-94 by a new edition of Ludwig Erk's 
Licdcrhori in three volumes. Brahms had not a good word for either 
collection, and the German Volkslieder in seven numbers, which he 
published through Simrock, may be regarded as an artistic protest 
against Bohme and his method. Herzogenberg's arrangements are 
those mentioned by his wife in Letter 58. 


its accuracy. My concern has been purely with the 
composition, and that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

We leave on Monday, August the 4th, arriving at 
Gastein on Tuesday. We shall hardly stay there more 
than three or four days, as lodging is sure to be scarce 
bad, and dear. From there v^e go to Berchtesgaden, 
v^here dear Frau Schumann is to join us about the 
14th of August, if I understood her aright. You have 
doubtless written a regular * Gewandhaus piece,' since 
you speak of the winter. We shall take you at your 
word. Good old Thieriot has gone, with his usual 
happy imperturbability, to stay at the most hideou;; 
spot in Steiermark. He passes through Venice on hii. 
way back to Graz — a place I shall have much pleasure 
in turning my back on this time. Auf Wiedersehen.—- 

^^^^^» Herzogenberg. 

63. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[PORTSCHACH, AllgUSf 2, 1 879.] 

Best thanks for your package, which takes me 
back for the moment, with an ominous sigh, to 
certain tricks of my own in the old days. Your 
plans, and Frau Schumann's, strike me as so varied 
and uncertain that I don't know what to do myself. 
For the present I place m^^ hopes on Berchtesgaden. 
It would be charming if we could all be lazy together 
there for a few days. — With kindest regards, yours, 

Johannes Brahms. 

64. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

Leipzig, November 24, 1879. 
My dear, good Friend, — You have, I am sure, quite 
forgotten us, but all the more do we think about you. 


Many are the thoughts that speed silently toward you 
in your blissful unconsciousness, and here is one — 
chosen because it needs no answer — of which, set 
forth in writing, you must endure to be made aware. 
You remember I took the liberty at Arnoldstein — of 
blessed memory ! — of copying one or two songs with- 
out your kind permission. You graciously allowed me 
to keep the copy, however, and to show it to anyone 
possessed of a pretty face or any other recommendation. 
It so happens that a very nice girl, an alto, who is 
staying with us for the Bach concert, has sung and 
pored over the glorious Todessehnen* until she longs 
to have it and be able to sing it — in public as well. It 
sounds so splendid, you see, that one yearns to share 
it with a multitude of people ; it is so divinely vocal 
that — well, I will only say she will fade away altogether 
unless she is permitted to have it. But permit it you 
must ; let us be conscientious at all costs ! So please 
say yes (or no !) on a post-card to seal Fraulein Fides 
Keller's fate. She sings the * Mussel' f charmingly, 
too, and would like to have it to put in her cupboard. 

And when are we really going to see you here, 
pray ? You are coming in January for certain ; we are 
counting on that, and looking forward to it immensely. 
Seriously, the thought of this refreshing annual visit is 
the one thing that enables us to put up with, and 
swallow, certain things here. I prefer to say nothing 
about your sonata.^ What a lot you must have had 
to listen to already — to the point or otherwise — on the 
subject ! You must be aware that it appeals to the 
affections as do few other things in the realm of music. 

• Op. 86, No. 6. t Therese, Op. 86, No. i. 

% The Violin Sonata in G, Op. 78, which was completed in the 
summer of 1879. 


You interpret it this way, that way, lose yourself in 
blissful dreaming as you listen to it, and become an 
enthusiast of the first order. The last movement in 
particular holds you enthralled, for the soul of it posi- 
tively overflows, and you ask yourself whether it can 
be just this piece in G minor that so moves you, or 
something else that has taken possession of your inmost 
self, unknown to you. And then there is that dear 
jT5 J which almost deludes you every time into think- 
ing that Brahms ' discovered ' the dotted quaver. 

Here I am chattering away after all, poor dear man ! 
Please send a post-card, and let it say you are coming, 
won't you ? When shall I receive the something dedi- 
cated to me, which is my due after ignominiously 
relinquishing the other to Herr Allgeyer?* I call it 
base to promise anyone such a Christmas present and 
then snatch it away again. 

My greeting to you. When I play the last page of 

the adagio in E flat with the heavenly pedal note,t 

getting slower and slower to make it last longer, I 

always feel you must be a good sort after all. Prove it 

by coming to visit us poor Leipzigers. — Ever yours 


Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

Do you know, by the way, that your fiddle sonata 
is * somewhat free in construction,' and that every 
movement is 'written straight on' without repeats! 
(If one could only make these people say what they 
mean by * written straight on '!) But the last movement 

♦ Ballads and Romances, Op. 75, dedicated to Julius Allgeyer, 
painter, engraver, and photographer, also Anselm Feuerbach's bio- 
grapher, whose friendship with Brahms dated from 1853. 

t Op. 78, p. 20, bar 5. 


is *so rich in material that another composer might 
boldly call it a first movement.' Isn't it amusing of 
the Kolner Zeitung to be so wise ! 

65. Brahms to Elisahet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna] November, 1879. 

My most honoured and dear, or most dear and 
HONOURED, Friend, — I will confess, though with some 
constraint, that your letter was a real act of charity, 
for 1 was beginning to think you had some grievance 
against me. Apparently not? As you are inclined to 
think me a good sort, and I can vouch for its being the 
case, I beg to suggest that it is a pity to drift apart on 
account of side-issues. We meet with little enough 
that is good and few enough of the good sort in this 
short life. 

Therefore I thank you again, with meaning, for the 
cordial which your kind letter proved to be. Please 
don't suppress any nice things you have to say about 
my music. A little flattery is always sw^eet, and the 
generality of people are dumb until they find some- 
thing to cavil at. 

Indeed I want to see your beautiful name on 
the most beautiful possible piece, but at the crucial 
moment it never seems to be just that ! I did think of 
the sonata,* but you remember we were none of us 
quite satisfied with it at Salzburg ?t 

But I am forgetting your singer. You had better 
give her what she wants, with the usual elaborate 

* Violin and pianoforte sonata, Op. 78. 

t Brahms had visited Joachim at Aigen, near Salzburg, in August, 
and had played through the sonata with him, the Herzogenbergs 
coming over from Berchtesgaden for the purpose. 


formalities. But I don't want the word ' manuscript ' 
on any programme, as it might offend other singers. 

Let me finish as I began, with some timid remarks. 
The tricky passages in the new trios* are charming, 
but I am reminded of the trickiness of the volks- 
lieder,t to which I cannot reconcile myself. I am 
hardly at liberty to say much on the point, as I 
am forced to remember the innumerable tricked-out 
volkslieder I myself have perpetrated. One specimen 
still exists, unfortunately.^ We must have a chat 
about it all sometime. I am inclined to think Herr 
Heinz will not be pleased later on to know his are in 
print either, besides which they seem to me peculiarly 
difficult — and so on ! 

Any letter that is finer than the average — or more 
idiotic — is liable to fall into the market and become 
public property. Take warning by the first instance 
and — don't you think the enclosed a fair example 
of the second ?§ Yes, D major is certainly an easy 

I have still one blank page, so will write down a jest 
of Mosenthal'sll which is going the round here. He 
was complaining that I was too sober for anything in 
my art. I protested that I could be gay on occasion, 
and he admitted this, but added : 'Yes, when you are 
really worked up and feel hilarious, you sing : Das 
Grab ist meine Freude ! 'IF 

* Herzogenb erg's String Trios, Op. 27. 
t C/. Letter 62, note. 

X Deutsche Volkslieder fiir vierstimmigen Chor geseizt, published in 
1864 without opus number. 

§ A letter from some member of the committee, 

II S. H. Mosenthal, author of the poem Deborah. Brahms met him 
sometimes in society and in the Viennese restaurants. 

^ * The grave is my delight.* 


I am quite curious to know what sort of cantatas you 

do.* I should Hke to come and listen ! 

Kindest remembrances to you both and a few others 

from yours most sincerely, 

J. Brahms. 

Please tell Kirchner his Davidshundler\ are quite 
safe. He shall have them back all right ; it is only my 
laziness which has made me keep them so long. 

66. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] November 28, 1879. 

My DEAR Friend, — I can return your thanks with 
interest — compound interest. It is long since any- 
thing gave us so much pleasure as your letter. You 
see, we ordinary mortals can't help thinking sometimes 
that a man like you must accept all the tribute of love 
and respect paid him as a tribute merely, for which he 
is vaguely grateful in the mass without realizing very 
definitely the share contributed by the individual. 
This being so, it is particularly heartening to find we 
do matter a little after all, and your charming way of 
putting it is worth more to us than I can say. 

The letter you enclose is really classic, but I could 
not think of taking it for my collection of autographs ; 
you must keep it in your own possession. . . . 
I should like to chatter on, but have some parts to 
correct for the concert to-morrow, and have various 
sad visits to pay. Our poor old Klengel died yester- 
day at the age of sixty-one. His six children are quite 
overwhelmed with grief, for they adored him. They 

* At the Bach-Verein. t Neue Davidsbiindler Tdnze, Op. 18. 


are now like lost sheep. It seems to us there is more 
trouble than usual this winter. 

Heinz sends greetings, and thanks you for your kind 
words about the trios. He still hopes you might judge 
the bulk of the volkslieder more leniently if you 
heard them. We really found them easy to sing, and 
everything worked out satisfactorily in practice. One 
or two of them he admits to be too tricky. 

Fraulein Keller thanks you for the songs. She has 
an extremely sympathetic alto voice and is thoroughly 
musical. I wish she could have a chance of singing in 
Vienna. Remember me to Artur Faber. He is a 
splendid fellow, and I shall not fail to assure his wife 
of the great pleasure it gave me to have this glimpse of 
him. Well, good-bye, and again many thanks. What 
could make you think we had a grievance against you? 
It is a mystery to me, and yet, what matter ? You are 
well informed now at least. Don't let us lose you, 
dear Friend. — Yours ever, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

6"]. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] December i, 1879. 

Dear Friend, — I am returning your precious manu- 
script, having first hastily committed it to memory. 
I also send the programme of our concert for which 
you so kindly asked. The performance was, as usual, 
a great pleasure to us, and an ample reward for our 
pains. It is one of the proudest moments of our life 
when the chorus show their grasp of the thing and 
rise to the occasion. They forget themselves and 
their nervousness, and exchange happy looks in all the 
beautiful parts, while the basses are really affected by 


the passage Ich aber werde traurig seiity and sing it 
exquisitely. One realizes the collectivity of this mass 
under the power of one great personality. Such 
moments are precious indeed ! Our chief pleasure is 
to watch the enthusiasm of the singers grow with each 
rehearsal, and we count it our chief glory to have 
aroused that enthusiasm; for there are very few who 
have it in them to begin with — the real thing, that 
has nothing in common with the rank and file con- 
ventional admiration of 'good old Bach.' 

Radecke* is a capital organist, who does not merely 
sit and pull out the stops in due order. 

But no more of that. There is a more important 
matter, which I forgot to mention last time. For 
heaven's sake don't come just at Christmas, for we 
shall be away ourselves — unfortunately, for we should 
love to stay at home. But you will come some time, 
won't you ? 

We buried Klengel to-day, and sang Bach over his 
grave as well as we could. 

Good-bye, dear, dear Friend. Heinz the good sends 

kindest regards, as does his faithful 


68. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] February 4, 1880. 

My very dear Friend, — You rejoiced my heart by 
sending those glorious pieces.f They were the more 
unexpected as I never dreamed you would have time 
to think of it before your concert to-day and the 

* Robert Radecke (b. 1830), violinist, pianist, organ virtuoso, 
musical director, etc. 

t Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79. 


triumphal tour through Poland.* At best 1 only 
looked forward to receiving the coveted treasure some 
weeks from now, and was thankful to find — after a 
G minor nightt I spent recently — that I remembered 
more than I thought at first. But a night like that 
is terrible, and the Almighty ought really to be more 
merciful — if he is musical. Scraps of the glorious 
whole pursue you, and you try vainly to connect them. 
All at once one bar shines clearly through the fog, then 
another, and you feel you are getting on, and join up 
phrase with phrase only to discover new gaps, until 
finally, in despair, you wish all good music (for that is 
the only kind that torments you) at Jericho, and fall 
back on counting up to a hundred to make you sleepy. 
But sleep sees through you, and eludes you in good 
earnest, until at last — at last the blessed moment comes 
when you lose consciousness. Sad that we are never 
able to appreciate that moment when it comes ! 

But at sight of the two much-admired pieces I forgot 
all my grief and pain, and greeted them like old friends. 
It is hard to believe that there ever was a time when I 
did not know them, so quickly does the barely acquired 
treasure become incorporated with the accumulation of 
long standing. Once known and loved, it is a posses- 
sion for all time. And, indeed, these pieces seem to 
me beautiful beyond measure — more and more beautiful 
as I come to know their bends and turnings, their 
exquisite ebb and flow, which affects me so extra- 
ordinarily, especially in the G minor. Then, too, I 

* Joachim played the Brahms violin concerto again in Vienna on 
February 3, after which the two started on a tour through Poland 
and Galicia. 

t A night spent in recalling the second of the two Rhapsodies, in 
G minor. 


have the comfort which can only come of knowing that 
I can feast my eyes and ears on it all as often as I like. 
I still think the pathetic bit at the close of the develop- 
ment* unique in its way, and am tempted to join the 
worthy Leipzigers in their delighted outbursts over 
'these crescendV and 'these decrescencii,' and this 
working-up on the dominant E until it relaxes peace- 
fully to take a fresh breath on the lunga (^).t 

But the fact that the G minor is my favourite does 
not make me insusceptible to the rugged beauty of the 
B minor with its very sweet trio. The way the trio 
theme is indicated beforehand J is quite wonderful. 
Indeed, the whole of this episode, with the right-hand 
triplets and the expressive basses, is another case where 
words are inadequate. One is so glad that the piece 
closes with that too, leaving the most impressive part 
uppermost in the mind. 

Ah yes ! you have indeed made us very happy 
again — not less by your visit,§ whose only fault was 
that of being too brief, like much else connected with 
your doings. Have we not been remonstrating with 
you this age for letting us wait so long for a real big, 
long-winded composition ? Just a G major sonata is 
really too insignificant an output for one year, and your 
Polish tour, which is to steal so much time, we contem- 
plate sadly and grudgingly, insatiable and greedy that 
we are ! It has been my luck to miss everything that 
has been performed of yours this winter|| : the violin 

* P. 15, bar 15 et seq. f P. 17, bars 1-7. % P. 5, bars 19-23. 

§ Brahms had called at Leipzig on his way home from a concert- 
tour on the Rhine, and it was on this occasion that Frau von Herzo- 
genberg became acquainted with the rhapsodies. 

II The performance of Brahms's violin concerto on December 28 
by Joachim ; of the 8 KlaviersUicke on January 4 by Btilow ; the 
Haydn Variations and Song of Destiny at the Gewandhaus under 


concerto, the Sonf^ of Destiny^ the sextet, and the 
unfortunate Rinaldo, which was so disgracefully badly 
done that my poor Heinz came home quite miserable. 
So you see we have double reason to hope to see you 
in April, with something good in your pocket, even if 
it be no G minor. * One can't always write in G minor.' 

My cough has been lively again, and I have had to 
lie up, bandaged in Priessnitz. My doctor thinks there 
is a strong tendency to permanent catarrh, which must 
not be allowed on account of my heart trouble. He is 
therefore most anxious that we should accept my 
sister's long-standing invitation to Florence, and con- 
vey ourselves thither in the spring. The project seems 
to me too magnificent, for various reasons. True, the 
few weeks' complete rest we should have at my 
sister's makes it practicable, but it still seems too good 
to come true. I feel I don't deserve it. In any case, 
the Berchtesgaden visit will not fall through. 

Good-bye now, and let your two loyal friends thank 
you once more for the refreshing message. I suppose 
we may copy out the pieces, and, if the copy proves 
irreproachable, even barter it for something else ? 

Don't be afraid to scold if you think me too brazen ! 

— Your old friend, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

69. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, February 14, 1880.] 
Please do not have the pieces written out, as I have 
a fair copy. I can only send my best thanks, in haste, 

Reinecke ; the G major sextet at the Gewandhaus Kammcrmusik 
and at the Riedel Verein ; and the cantata Rinaldo at the Paulus 


for the kind letter which I was delighted to find 
yesterday on my arrival. — Yours very sincerely, 

J. Br. 

70. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, 1880.] 

My very dear Friend, — It really is not nice of you 
to go so far away without even leaving an address. 
It might bring the most important business to a stand- 
still, and I am writing on business to-day ! 

If Herr Astor* does not know where to forward 
the letter, it is not my fault. Herr Simrock will 
assuredly not trouble about my woes, but will simply 
send a blank title-page into the world. 

You see, I want to publish certain two pieces you 
know of. 

Can you suggest a better title than Zwei Rhapsodien 
fur das Pianoforte ?] You cannot suggest a better 
dedication — that is, if you will allow me to put your 
dear and honoured name on this trash. 

But how to write it ? — Elsa or Elisabet ? Freifrau 
or Baronin ? Nee or not ? 

Forgive all these frivolous remarks, but write a line 
at once to Ischl, Salzburgerstrasse 51, where I expect 
to go to-morrow. I hope you will find more to say 
at the same time, especially that you are in excellent 
health and are having a splendid time in that glorious 

In great haste, and with kindest regards to you and 

Herr Heinz. — Yours most sincerely, 

J. Br. 

* Edmund Astor, Herzogenberg's friend and publisher, 
t The inscriptions over the two pieces in the manuscript are 
respectively : Capriccio {presto agitato) and Molto passionato. 


71. Elisabet von Herzogenberg io Brahms. 

Florence, Via dei Bardi, 22, 

c/o Frau Brewster {my sister), 

May 3, 1880. 

My dear Friend, — What a charming surprise ! For, 
in spite of your breathing from time to time of a kind 
intention to dedicate something to me, I never quite 
believed in it, especially since Herr Allgeyer's igno- 
minious robbery of the other ; and now you put me to 
shame by giving me just these two glorious pieces for 
my own. I need not dwell upon my great delight over 
the dedication. You know whether I love these pieces 
or not, and you know whether I am bound to be 
delighted or not at seeing my name flaunt itself on 
a production of your brain. So let me say simply 
thank you, though with all my heart. As to your 
inquiry, you know I am always most partial to the 
non-committal word, Klavierstucke^ just because it is 
non-committal ; but probably that won't do, in which 
case the name Rhapsodien is the best, I expect, although 
the clearly-defined form of both pieces seems some- 
what at variance with one's conception of a rhapsody. 
But it is practically a characteristic of these various 
designations that they have lost their true character- 
istics through application, so that they can be used for 
this or that at will, without many qualms — ^und Nam 
ist Schall und Ranch, nmnehelnd Himmelsklarheit'* 
Welcome, then, ye (to me) nameless ones, in your 
nebulous garb of rhapsodies ! 

How glad I am that you have been in Italy, so that I 
do not need to tell you anything. If I say I am sitting 

* From Goethe's Faust. ' Himmclsklarheit ' should be * Hinimds- 



in the open door of the balcony looking out over the 
Arno, almost exactly between Ponte delle Grazie and 
Ponte Vecchio, you know what that means, and just 
how blue the sky is overhead ; how sweet and soothing 
the mountains are in the background, and what my 
frame of mind is as I gaze on this splendour. I know 
it all under a hundred different aspects, thanks to the 
revelations I have had during the past weeks. I have 
involuntarily so woven the detail into the whole, and 
again unravelled the whole into detail, that my affection 
for this heavenly place is ever on the increase, and I 
am sad to think how soon we must leave it, and tear 
our eyes from what has become indispensable to them. 
I am so glad you have been here too, and have had the 
joy of discovering that your eyes can see the inspiring 
beauty which surrounds you, even though you grew 
up in such distant surroundings. The wonder is that 
we could be content with so little all this time — with a 
Katharinenstrasse, an ancient Rathaus 1 This people, 
one humbly confesses, was impelled to produce fine 
things, masterpieces, in lavish abundance, to satisfy its 
own cravings. Yet it retained its gay, martial spirit, 
and, never content to rest beside its own work, made 
such haste to destroy its neighbours' that it is amazing 
to find how much escaped destruction. And to-day 
this same wonderful nation is worse than dead ! The 
modern Italian who dashes from Bargello to the Palazzo 
Vecchio has almost less connection with the history 
and art of his country, is almost less worthy to possess 
such treasures, than we gaping barbarians ; for we, at 
least, come imbued with a certain childlike awe. 

But here I am, chattering away when I ought to 
be telling you more important things, as, for instance, 
that we hope to be at Berchtesgaden early in July ; 


that the Engelmanns follow with four infants at the 
end of July, and that we think it would be so very nice 
and sensible if you joined us there. As Herr Muller* 
you seemed half inclined for Berchtesgaden, so I hope 
Herr Brahms will be of the same mind. We will take 
rooms for you and arrange everything beautifully, and, 
once you are there, treat you nicely or leave you in 
peace, just as you wish ; in short, you shall have every- 
thing you want. It is so particularly nice to meet in 
the summer. We want it so much. Please, please, 
tell us soon whether we may count on it. 

What can take you to Ischl ? Is it so comfortable ? 
I thought half Vienna disported itself there. 

You must tell us a great deal about Dusseldorf.t I 
cannot console myself for not having been able to 
go for the festival. When the day came, I thought to 
myself : * Confound Italy ! ' In reply to another of your 
questions, we are very well. Heinrich suns himself 
like a salamander, and purrs for happiness like a cat. 
When we are not feeding at Bargello's or elsewhere, 
he writes coffee-fugues t to make up his dozen. We 
went to two very funny concerts here, and came to 
the conclusion that it would not do to live here, in spite 
of all the attractions. We should go off our heads in 
a country which boasts only one copy of the Bach 
Ausgabe, and where all that we value most has literally 
no shadow of a foothold. 

* Brahms had apparently said he would not mind going to Berch- 
tesgaden as Herr Muller — that is, as a private person, without 

f A slip of the pen for Bonn, where a festival was held, from 
May 2 to May 4, to celebrate the unveiling of the Schumann monu- 
ment. Joachim played Brahms's violin concerto, and was joint- 
director of the festival with Brahms. 

X On the notes c, a, f, f, e, e. 


But good-bye now, and may we soon meet at 

Berchtesgaden. How I am looking forward to it, and 

to the Rhapsodies beforehand ! I feel like a small 

capitalist in prospect of this dear, beautiful possession. 

For the rest, I will answer your last question by signing 

my own name, such as it is, and such as you know it. — 

Yours sincerely, 

Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

You have always written it in this way. What 
brings you to this idiotic question ? 

^2. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 


July II, 1880. 

My very dear Friend, — Is it true, as we hear through 
the paper (indirectly, for we never open one ourselves), 
that you are not well ?* We can hardly believe it, for 
it is not at all like you ; but I must ask, so as to be 
ready to let loose all the flood of sympathy I hold 
ready at your disposal. I should grieve more for you 
when not very well than for others downright ill, for 
you are such a complete stranger to illness — lucky 
man ! — and would certainly be a bad patient. 

Write a line soon to reassure us, and tell us at the 
same time what chance we have of seeing you here. 
We want you badly; the mere prospect makes us 
happy. I am flattering myself that you will bring a 
quantity of things this time, either in your trunk or 
in your head — both for choice — so that we can have 
a good look at what you have to show, and take it 
with us on our walks. Ever since the Portschach 

* Brahms was suffering from aural catarrh. 


motet* I have been longing for you to write more 
choral things ; and when I think of you with your 
pockets full of good things, like a child's St. Nicholas, 
it is always a vision of motets, or the like, which dazzles 
my greedy eyes. 

Did Ehlert's article in the Rundschau infuriate you 
too, I wonder ?t Why does no one ever say the right 
thing ? Even praise is offensive from such a source. 
I call it low to discuss anyone's work in that cheap, 
shallow way. The man puts the things that matter 
on one side, and gets off easily with would-be witty 
comments and comparisons. Beethoven shows his 
profile, you your full face, indeed !t Your variations 
are different from Beethoven's and Schumann's (as if 
they pretended to any resemblance !), yet you ' make 
your bow and go out at the door in the same way.' 
What is the use of such twaddle ? Even at the 
mention of the G major sonata, for instance, where 
one yearns for a little warmth and sincerity, there 
is only incomprehensive stuff' about the ' May rain 
brushing the heads of the flowers.' Tell me, please, 
is it the womenfolk who brought all this mischief into 
the world, or do the men say these insipidities of their 
own accord ? It was news to me that the Rhapsody 

* Op. 74, No. I. Cf. Letters 40 and 41. 

f Louis Ehlert (1825-1884), composer and writer on music, had 
published an essay on Brahms in the June number of Rodenberg's 
Deutsche Rundschau. 

% Ehlert had said : * Brahms's music has no profile, only a full 
face. It lacks the strongly-marked features which stamp the expres- 
sion absolutely. . . . My observations have led me to conclude 
that nothing is so persistently transmitted through many generations 
as gestures. ... His variations have practically no resemblance left 
in their faces to those of Beethoven and Schumann, yet they occa- 
sionally make their bow and go out at the door in the same way.' 


sprang from a 'worldly impulse.' The man cannot 
even feel the pulse-beat of a piece that stirs one to the 
very marrow, and yet has the presumption to take 
stock of an artist's personality and sit in judgment 
on him ! 

One should be used to this sort of thing, but some- 
how rage gets the upper hand every time. If only 
someone would find the right message to send out 
into the world ! Better leave the beautiful to find its 
own way into the hearts of men, and let no one write 
on art at all, than endure this nonsense. 

But enough of these sad evils, which we cannot 
remedy. You must write, write any amount, so that 
we may forget all the deplorable, futile twaddle we 
hear in our joy over what you give us. 

When may we expect you ? Shall I be able to 
greet the Engelmanns, who are to turn up here soon, 
with a joyful piece of information ? I am not at all 
sorry the Rhapsodies are not yet out (as announced), 
for I shall now have the pleasure of playing them to 
Emma as an entire novelty, putting on considerable 
airs for the occasion. 

We have a cottage piano from Munich, gorgeously 
black and shiny outside, though it is a wretched little 
instrument. Still, it is not to be despised, as summer 
pianos go, and you have a way of making the notes 
sing on all sorts of pianos, as witness the B flat in the 
middle part of the B minor capriccio.* Good-bye now, 
my dear Friend. Heinz sends kindest regards, and 
we both look forward to seeing you. — Your faithful 


* P. lo, bars 3 d seq. 


73. Brahms to Elisahet von Herzogenherg. 

[IscHL, July 14, 1880.] 

My dear Friend, — You are really too kind and good 
to bestow another quite undeserved letter on me — 
undeserved in every sense, for I cannot even claim 
indulgence on account of my distinguished complaint, 
which proved to be none at all. My ear elected to 
take cold, and, as I prefer to keep it in good condition, 
I consulted an ear specialist. He had it under his 
inspection three days, waiting for something to 
develop, but nothing came.* 

Had I known in time that you and the Engelmanns 
were going to Berchtesgaden, I might have been 
tempted to leave Austria — at least, I think I might. 
How much more sensible if you came here another 
time, though ! It is really beautiful, and you are free 
from social duties, and can live considerably cheaper 
than elsewhere. The fact that half Vienna comes here 
does not trouble me at present — in fact, I have posi- 
tively no objection to all Vienna ! I should probably 
fly before half Berlin or half Leipzig, I admit ; but half 
Vienna is quite pretty, and will bear looking at. But 
I must and will pay you a visit. 

The Rhapsodies and the new 'Hungarians'! arrived 

* Brahms was, however, thoroughly alarmed by his sudden deaf- 
ness, fearing that he was doomed to the same fate as Beethoven. He 
left for Vienna immediately, having wired his friend Billroth to meet 
him at the station. Billroth was able to reassure him, and direct 
him to a specialist. To Brahms's great annoyance, a report of his 
illness got into the papers through an indiscretion, and he found it a 
serious matter to reply to all his letters of sympathy. 

I A second series of Hungarian Dances for pianoforte duet 
(books Hi., iv.) had been pubHshed simultaneously with the Rhap- 
sodies by Simrock. 


with your letter. I wonder if you will simply jeer at 
them and let them go ? They rather amuse me. If 
they should amuse you likewise, be sure you tell me 
so. You have no idea how kindly I take to that sort 
of thing ! You will receive them one of these days, as 
I sent off your address immediately. That reminds 
me I did not — or do not — know the Engelmanns' 
address either, and cannot remember* whether I 
forwarded the things to them at Utrecht. Please 
remember me very kindly to them. Anything that 
has not reached them shall be sent on after. 

I am quite willing to write motets, or anything for 
chorus (I am heartily sick of everything else !) ; but 
won't you try and find me some words ? One can't 
have them made to order unless one begins before 
good reading has spoilt one. They are not heathenish 
enough for me in the Bible. I have bought the Koran 
but can find nothing there either. 

But daylight has departed, and a man wants his 
supper. Excuse the answer to your last (which never 
came), and let me have a real long letter real soon. 

Kindest regards to you two and the other two. — 

Yours most sincerely, 


74. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Berchtesgaden, July 23, 1880. 

My very dear Friend, — It would be easy just to say 
* Thank you,' but the rest is the difficulty, and it is just 
the rest that matters. I have already given you my 
opinion of the Rhapsodies at great length, but am quite 

* Brahms betrays himself as a native of Hamburg in his use of 
crinnern for sich erinnern. 


ready to begin from the beginning and tell you all 
over again what you know without being told. I can 
see so well now that it is not everything to know a 
piece by heart, for, with the two pieces before me in 
all their splendour, I seem to be always discovering 
new features ; what is more, I am better able to grasp 
the unity pervading this multiform structure. It is 
just the finest works of art which, because of this 
unity, seem to us rather the work of Nature in their 
inevitableness, their air of having been there from all 

It was a strange surprise to me to find that glorious 
triplet part, which originally formed the introduction 
to the trio as well, exalted to a solitary appearance in 
the coda.* If you will believe me, I felt so strongly 
that that bit ought to be saved up to make its powerful 
effect at the close, that I conceived the audacious plan 
of writing to supplicate you, but was restrained by my 
native modesty. Now I find, to my joy, that my 
instinct did not deceive me. The five fateful bars 
before the trio suffice so perfectly, and one revels all 
the more in the close, which must have come to you at 
a particularly inspired moment. 

But I miss that bar at the end of the trio badly. 
I like the G sharp and G in the more extended 
original form much better, and shall go by my manu- 
script — not by Simrock ! There is one note I cannot, 
cannot understand. It is in the trio, page 6, first bar 
of the last line : the sustained E. The voices go in 
such nice contrary motion without it [sic]. 

* Page II, bar 7. 


I simply can't understand why that third voice should 
push itself in. But forgive this possibly very im- 
pertinent criticism. 

Finally, let me thank you once more for giving me — 
me — these particular pieces. I cannot tell you how 
great a joy they are to me. 

And now the ' Hungarians ' ! I can well believe 
that they amuse you. Delicious as the earlier ones 
were, I hardly think you hit off the indescribable and 
unique character of a Hungarian band so miraculously 
then as now. This medley of twirls and grace-notes, 
this jingling, whistling, gurgling clatter, is all repro- 
duced in such a way that the piano ceases to be a 
piano, and one is carried right away into the midst of 
the fiddlers. What a splendid selection you borrowed 
from them this time, and how much more you give 
back than you take ! For instance, it is impossible to 
imagine — though I may be mistaken — that a melody 
like that E minor. Number 20, could ever have taken 
on such a perfect form, particularly in the second part, 
but for you. Your touch was the magic which gave 
life and freedom to so many of these melodies. What 
impresses me most of all in your performance, though, 
is that you are able out of these more or less hidden 
elements of beauty to make an artistic whole, and raise 
it to the highest level, without diminishing its primitive 
wildness and vigour. What was originally just noise 
is refined into a beautiful fortissimo^ without ever 
degenerating into a civilized fortissimo either. The 
various rhythmical combinations at the end, which 
seem to have come to you so apropos, would only fit 
just there, and are amazingly effective — as, for example, 
the delightful basses in tumultuous Number 15. That 
one would be my favourite, anyway, if it were not 


for Numbers 20, 19, 18 — oh, and the short, sweet 
Number 14 !* If I were to try and tell you all we have 
to say about these dances, I should have to quote 
passage after passage, until I had copied out nearly the 
whole of the 'Hungarians.' I am longing to hear you 
play them. Are you really coming soon ? We and 
the Engelmanns hope so much you will not put it off 
too long. One never knows what may come between 
to spoil the expected pleasure. 

I refuse to believe there is nothing else to be found 
for you in the Bible. There is still plenty of material 
in Job, which you read with such happy results before,t 
and in the Psalms. It can't really hurt you if a thing 
has been composed before ! For instance, would you 
not make your hart pant quite differently after the 
water-brooks to Mendelssohn's? J Surely such words 
have more depth and immortality than many a Heine 
poem which has been done a hundred times over. 
But perhaps you are only teasing us all this time, and 
are bringing the loveliest motets with you. 

Kindest remembrances from the Engelmanns, whom 
we saw yesterday. It is such a pleasure to meet them 
again, and have some real good talks and some music. 
They received the Rhapsodies and the 'Hungarians' 
long ago. Good-bye now, dear friend, and let us see 
you here soon. It is true half Leipzig is swarming 
here — crowds of parsons ! — but, O joy, we know them 
not! And the natives — man and beast — are too 

* No. 14 is Brahms's original work, like several more of the dances 
(see Kalbeck, Johannes Brahms, i. 66). 

t Brahms wrote his motet, Op. 74, No. i, on words taken from 
Job. In writing the Vicr crnstc Gesdnge, composed in 1895, Brahms 
may have recalled her words. 

% ' As the Hart pants,' Mendelssohn, Op. 42, No. i. 


charming. And you will find excellent coffee at 
Zimmermeister Brandner's. And a few people who 
like you. — Kindest regards from us both. 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

75. Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

Leipzig, November 25, 1880. 

Well, here they are, the Sacred Volkslieder^* with 
a request for a kind reception. The bad ones and the 
most tricky I have kept at home — left them in my 
desk — while there are a few quite harmless ones put 
in to fill their place ; and if the whole collection 
hardly comes in the category of easy choral music, it 
at least contains nothing that I have not proved to be 
practicable. Embellishment in itself does no harm, 
but over-embellishment is more serious, and soon takes 
its own revenge. 

You know how much a word or two of recognition 
from you, however relative, means to me ; even a well- 
intentioned refusal or condemnation I can, and have 
always been able to, appreciate as a kindness. But 
I know, too, how keen an interest this presupposes on 
your part, an interest which must necessarily be 
spontaneous, and is not to be had for the asking. If 
you realized how I turn over in my mind any casual 
remark of yours, you would understand why I am 
always coming to you in spite of your anything but 
encouraging attitude. 

You, as a great master, would be hard put to it 
indeed to respond to, or even grasp, all the affection 
you inspire by your mere existence, by your presence. 
You have become intimate with yourself from the 

* Op. 28. Cf. Letters 58, 62, 65. 


habit of years, and those with whom you stood on an 
equal footing are all dead. 

When you began to know Schumann you were, 
I believe, seventeen.* I feel as if I should never be 
older than eighteen at most with respect to you, so 
you must put up with something like a love-letter once 
in a way from such a hobbledehoy — all the more now 
that we are really starving after a long fast and the 
bitter disappointment of the summer! Shall we have 
the joy of seeing you here this winter with something 
or other ? We could meet in Berlin very soon, if you 
should think it worth while to come over for the 
Brahms Requiem.! 

When I think of little girls like Fillu and Eugenie 

enjoying the privilege, denied to ourselves, of hearing 

two new trio movements and two new overtures, I 

feel very sorelj You might at least reassure us. 

With kindest regards from my wife, — Yours most 



76. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, November 26, 1880.] 
My dear Friend, — Your letter has this moment 
arrived, and I must send a line in haste. Are you 

* Brahms was twenty when he came to Schumann in 1853. 

f A performance at the Hochschule on December 4, conducted by 

X Brahms was not able to go to Berchtcsgaden from Ischl until 
September 13, after the Herzogenbergs had left. Frau Schumann 
was staying at Vordereck, near Berchtcsgaden, her summer house for 
some years, and Brahms had played to her and her family the 
Academic and Tragic overtures, and two movements from the C major 
trio, Op. 87, which he had written at Ischl. The ' little girls ' were, 
of course, Marie Fillunger and Eugenie Schumann. 


really going to Berlin for the 4th ? I have promised 
to go, and thought of proposing a visit to you on the 
7th. On the morning of the 6th we expect to try my 
two overtures in Berlin, so perhaps you will come 
and listen, too. I have promised to do them at Leipzig 
on the nth of January. 

* « * « * 

Your dear lady kept me so well posted up all the 
summer, but unfortunately she failed to tell me you 
were leaving so early. I only learned this disappoint- 
ing fact on seeing Frau Schumann, and through her, 
when it was too late. It was so beautiful, too, at 
Berchtesgaden, so gay and sociable. 

I broke off in the middle of other correspondence, 
and must go back to it now. I hope to thank you 
in reasonable fashion for the songs ;* my first free 
hour is assigned to them. Please tell me plainly, in two 
words, whether you are going to Berlin for the Requiem, 
and can stay over the Sunday. I hope to do the over- 
ture by seven o'clock at latest on the 6th. — Yours 

most sincerely, 

J. Br. 

77. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, December 14, 1880. 

My Dear Friend, — You would have had a sign 
of life from Humboldtstrasse before this if I had not 
been such a poor creature, sleeping by day, waking by 
night, and as unhappy as a naturally happy person can 
be. To-day I have picked up somewhat, and hasten to 
thank you for the delightful hours you gave us here. 
It meant so much to us in every way that you 

* Herzogenberg's Sacred Volkslieder, 


came back with us, even though it was only on 

the excellent A 's account. . . . Joachim played 

your concerto splendidly.* We had not heard it, you 
know (except at Salzburg), since the first time, and 
were completely enchanted with and carried away by 
it. It made us feel we had you actually with us after 
you had left. Now, as each day brings us nearer 
the nth, we look forward more and more to your 
return. The Engelmanns, who had been insisting 
they must leave on the loth, have of course decided to 
stay, and are as delighted as we are ; so I hope you 
will not regret giving the Leipzigers a hearing of your 
dear, beautiful music. The overtures torment me 
in my bad nights. I can't quite get hold of the 
F major theme in the ' Festal,'t and am simply longing 
for the promised pianoforte scores. And don't forget 
the melodische Ubungsstiicke I 

Our concertt on Sunday went off so well that we can 
hardly console ourselves for not having had you there. 
You would so have enjoyed Schauet dock und sehet.^ 
It was one of our good days, when every singer is 
carried outside himself in response to something which 
cannot be dismissed with the mere word * inspiration.' 
Each one has strength for three at such moments, and 
we really produce something very creditable, feeble 
little handful as we are ! I am always so glad for 
Heinz, dear fellow ! He so often has a wretched time 
drumming every difficult interval into their heads. 

Good-bye now. Don't stop liking us, and let me 

* Joachim had played the violin concerto at the Gewandhaus, 
this being the third performance at Leipzig within the year. 

+ Academische Festouvertilre, p. 9 of full score, beginning at the 
ninth bar. 

% One of the Bach-Verein concerts. 

§ Cantata by Bach. 



assure you of what you know already, that we like 

you more than a little. — Your 


Joachim's variations* are so pleasing and nice ; they 
were very well received. 

78. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, December 24, 1880.] 

I am sending you some Handel duets, f and shall 

be glad if you will look over the piano embellishments^ 

carefully, and still more the German words. There 

are also some melodious finger exercises which are only 

too obviously influenced by my tender admiration 

of the smiling Professorin's§ delicate hands and fingers. 

I shall want to have a chat about everything when 

I come. Meanwhile keep it all under lock and key. 

With best wishes for Christmas, yours, 


79. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, December 28, 1880. 

My very dear Friend, — What a very great pleasure 
to have your overture|| drop from the skies half an 
hour before we lit our Christmas-tree. My maid 
brought it in, all unsuspecting, and I, spying the Roder 
stamp, at once surmised the whole truth. I carried 

* Joachim had played his own variations for violin and orchestra 
from manuscript at the same concert as the Brahms violin concerto. 

t Brahms was adapting some of Handel's chamber duos for the 
Peters edition. 

X The elaborate contrapuntal movement which Brahms had evolved 
from the figured Basso conUnuo. 

§ Frau Emma Engelmann. 

II The Academische Fesiouvertiire, Op. 80. 


the roll to Heinz so as not to spoil my own fun, 
and he propped it up with due solemnity,* where 
it outshone all the other nice things, and rejoiced my 
heart more than I can say. Next day we went to the 
Engelmanns', first thing, with our treasured roll, and 
there we played and played the dear overture, and 
four happy people put their heads together and said 
what they never can say to your face. If you had 
seen our expressive smiles, you would really have 
been a wee bit pleased ; for although it may have 
a noisier reception at Breslauf shortly, no one there 
will hear and drink in every fine touch, every glorious 
change in the harmony, more gratefully than the said 
four people. Only now have I really made friends 
with the overture. I am the dullest of mortals, and the 
form bothered me at first with its long Introduction ;t 
also I found it difiicult, with all those different themes, 
to sort out everything in due order. Now that I have 
grasped it, I quite love it ; and when we hear it in 
January, hear you conduct it for us after having had it 
in our heads so long that we nearly forget how recent 
an acquisition it is, then it will be a real Festal Overture 
for us, too. It was too good of you to remember the 

* Christmas presents in Germany are spread out in separate piles, 
usually on separate tables, one for each member of the family. The 
time of presentation is the afternoon or evening of Christmas Eve ; 
it takes place in a room set apart for the occasion, of which the 
chief adornment is a lighted Christmas-tree. A hymn is often sung 
by way of preliminary, and the whole ceremony of entering the room 
and examining the presents is attended with much solemnity. — Tr. 

t The Academische Festouveriiire had been written in recognition 
of the honorary doctor's degree conferred on Brahms by the philo- 
sophical faculty of Breslau University. He conducted the first per- 
formance of this overture and its twin, the Tragischc, on January 4, 
at the Breslau Orchestral Society. 

X Pp. 5-17 of full score. 



melodious finger exercises, and the duets too, you 
dear man ! Now there is only the * Tragic ' one left to 
sigh for.* 

And now I am requested to entreat you to fix the 
date of your coming, if possible. The Engelmanns are 
in correspondence with various friends in Amsterdam, 
who are coming for the overture, and are therefore 
entitled to an interest in the day. So do please make 
a valiant effort to fix it. The poor young Rontgens, 
who are here now, will, unfortunately, have to leave 
before it. We practise together most vigorously. 
There is a grand Brahms evening the day after to- 
morrow, when Emma will play the A major quartet, 
Julius Rontgen the quintet, with a few other trifles 
thrown in. Amanda, Julius's wife, is to play the violin 
concerto by heart, just by way of an encore, when the 
family has already been playing three hours ! Oh yes, 
we all have tough digestions ! Engelmann suffers 
worse than ever from his head. Half his life is spent 
in dull pain, yet he never breathes a complaint, and 
has only to look at his little wife to break out in smiles. 
It really does me good to see him so cheerful and 
resigned. There is something to be said for my 
own dear, too, however. The way he distinguished 
himself at Christmas ! I only wish you would get 
married, just to have an idea how good a husband 
can be ! 

Excuse this disjointed epistle. The overture has 
gone to our heads, and also Ferdinand Raimund's 
works, one of my Christmas presents. Now I read 
Diamant des Geisterkonigs when I can't sleep at night, 
and am quite happy. . . . 

But it is very consoling that, although there is little 
* Tragische Ouverture, Op. 8i. 


enough of the true and the beautiful in this world, that 

little is so abundantly satisfying as to compensate for 


Last of all, let me thank you once more. When it is 

done in writing, at least I don't see you wriggle ! 

Let us know soon when we may have the pleasure of 

preparing for your visit. — Your 


80. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig, January, 188 1.] 
My dear Friend, — It is my fate, the moment you are 
gone, to plague you again to the tune of Wann hort 
der Himmel aiif zu strafen.* Fraulein Zimmermann,t 
who asked you, through me, for an autograph to give 
to Miss Mackenzie, your English interpreter, has just 
alarmed me by asking if you left it, after all. I certainly 
told you about it, but did not remind you again, and 
what good is the one without the other ? So, as it is my 
fault, let me pay the penalty of boring you. Please don't 
forget. Fraulein Mackenzie appears to have begged 
hard for it, and Fraulein Zimmermann, who first learnt 
to love your music through Miss Mackenzie, is anxious 
to show her gratitude by fulfilling this wish of hers. 

Dear Herr Brahms, it is very quiet at the Herzo- 
genbergs' now. We miss you very much, though it 
is something to have the memory of that good time. 

* Brahms had written a canon on Uhland's lines 

* Wann hort der Himmel auf zu strafen 
Mil Albums und mit Autographen ?' 

(When will this rain of albums cease, 
And autograph -hunters give us peace ?) 

and had given it to Naumann for his ' Illustrated History of Music' 
f Agnes Zimmermann (b. 1845), pianist and composer. 


You must come again often ! You brought a glow into 
our hearts again with your music and your friendship ; 
and although this kind of joy is enduring and helps us 
through the hard times, repetition is as necessary to 
the ordinary mortal as to the musician, so give us 
this good old-fashioned sign before long: 


Rubinstein and his symphony have fallen through, 
and *I canna tell what has come ower me that I am 
not weary and wae !'* . . . 

... I have one more message to give you. My two 
maids came rushing up in great excitement after you 
left, gasping out inarticulate gratitude mixed with all 
sorts of other feelings towards Herr Brahms, and 
begging me to render you an intelligible account of 
their unintelligible thanks. Johannes Brahms, you 
have obviously been guilty of something which must 
not occur again, unless you wish to be counted among 
the musicians who spend their thousand gulden on 
china, and still more on satin knickerbockers!! 
Seriously, I was rather furious when my two maidens 
confided in me, and must presume on our old friend- 
ship to scold you a little ! 

Good-bye now. Herr Chrysander's New Year's 
wish was that you might experience * that continuity 
in production without which there is no true satisfac- 
tion ' ; my wish is that we may experience the con- 
tinuity of your friendship, without which there is no 
longer any real happiness for your most faithful 

Heinrich and L. Herzogenberg. 

* First two lines of Heine's Lorelcy. 

t An allusion to Wagner's weakness for satin, 


81. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, February, 1881.] 

Dear Friend, — Forgive the delay in sending the 
enclosed,* and its shabbiness now that it comes, but I 
really had, and have, no time. Otherwise I should like 
to tell you of my travels! and a few other pleasing 
matters. But I must content myself with saying that 
the days in Leipzig were delightful, and that I shall 
come and put up with everything there gladly and often 
— as long as you are there ! 

About the enclosed canon -.% you know that soprano, 
tenor^ alto, and bass, come in each four bars behind the 
other. It finishes when the soprano comes to ^ in the 
repetition, two notes lower of course. 

Please send it to Miss Mac — Farren or Ziegen.§ 
Should you be tempted to give it to Fritzsch (?), I 
wish it signed J. B., with the further inscription 
'From a Leipzig album'!!! But I must write the 
solution over it, or it would look too mad for any- 

Be pleased to read between the lines at this point 
my kindest remembrances and thanks. — Yours, 

J. Brahms. 

* The desired autograph for Miss Mackenzie. 

f Brahms had been at Breslau from January ist to 7th, at Leipzig 
on the 13th, at Miinster on the 22nd, at Krefeld on the 25th, at 
Amsterdam on the 31st, and in February at The Hague and at Haarlem. 

% The autograph took the form of a four-part canonic puzzle, 
which was published, according to Brahms's suggestion, in No. 18 of 
the Musikalischcs WochcnbJatt, April 28, 1881. The riddle was solved 
the very next day by F. Bohme, and his solution was printed by 
Fritzsch on August 4, 1881. It is not commonly known to this day 
that Brahms was the composer. 

§ A joke on the name, Farren and Ziqgen standing for bulls aqcj 
gQ^ts respectively. — Tr, 


82. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, February 24, 1881.] 

My dear Friend, — I have profited considerably by 
Mrs. Macfarren. The canon, which I have copied out 
neatly in full score, is most piquant with its en- 
harmonics. I am looking forward to hearing it 
properly sung, but that has not been possible up to 
now, as our friend has first to solve it. Why did you 
tell me the tenor had to begin ? That made it so much 

Fritzsch, honest fellow ! was quite gleeful at the 
prospect of printing something ' from a Leipzig album,' 
so please let him have the key. 

Thank you for your nice letter, short though it was. 
We are much aff'ected to hear that you will come and 
put up with everything here gladly and often ; it says 
more to us than we could trust ourselves to put into 
words. Every time we hear how you fare elsewhere, 
we feel sad and ashamed and envious. 

By way of rewarding you for past favours, may I 
now entreat a few more, already promised ? You know 

the N s have very little music, and you said you 

would go to your store-room and produce some- 
thing for these good people, who are devoted to 
you. You said I was to remind you, which I now do. 
You could stow away with them anything you have to 
spare, for every thing is welcome, and everything coveted, 
even duet editions of the Requiem and such. Most of 
all do they hanker after the F minor quintet, arranged 
for two pianos. If you should have that to spare, 
great would be the rejoicing. You also mentioned a 
few more canons, which we should be delighted to 


have. (If you think me too fond of 'jogging' your 
memory, please consider that you solemnly authorized 
me to make all these reminders !) We had our second 
Bach concert on the 19th, and heard so much praise 
that we began to have qualms as to whether it really 
had been decent. It is certain that no one here under- 
stands what we do, and that almost frightens us. The 
chorus and orchestra were most enthusiastic, however; 
Hinke, our oboist, played Wir zittern mid bebcn 
bewitchingly, and the trumpet's high C went ringing 
through the church in ^ Es erhvih sich ein Streit' Even 

the D s and their set were quiet, so much did they 

enjoy it, and said afterwards they would like to hear it 
all over again. That was our thirty-fifth cantata, and 
we are still young ! We have passed the nobility-test* 
by three already ! But the soloists are always a 
trouble. They are so imbued with their soloism that 
they can't be quiet and impersonal. Then the musical 
side is often so undeveloped. . . . There is so much 
vanity and vexation of spirit here below, and so little 
pure happiness, that when I think of myself, and the 
full measure meted out to me, I am full of shame. For 
what has one done to deserve it? 

Dear Friend, I know you have no time, and are wish- 
ing I would stop. I really will, but not without telling 
you that, whenever we two sum up all the love and 
beauty in our lives, we never forget to remind our- 
selves that we have you, and can rejoice both in your 
music and in your affection for us. 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

* I.c.f thirty-two quartcrings. — Tr. 


83. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, March 2, 188 1.] 

My dear Friend, — I am sending off a fair-sized 
bundle, but feel, all the same, that I boasted too much. 
There are no duets or two-piano arrangements, un- 
fortunately. 1 am really flattering myself that the 
greater part will remain with you ! At least, the two 
better copies of the Requiems. The bad English 

edition is for Miss . You would have no use for 

the scores of my Requiem and Triumphlied? Or for 
songs transposed for alto ? 

The bound volumes belonged to a friend who used 
to take a great interest in my music. She no longer 
does so ; hears a better sort — in higher spheres. 

The canons would only have been lost in all that 
pack. How can anyone who has done thirty-five 
cantatas take an interest in such things ? 

I don't think I even know so many. . . . Why did 
you stop when you had only reached the eighth page? 
No flattery, but when you have such beautiful note- 
paper it must be as entrancing to write on as it is 
to read ! 

But my maestro* is coming, and instead of writing 
I have been hunting up this music, which please put 
down to my credit. — With kindest regards, yours, 


84. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] March 6, 1881. 

You kind person ! That was a regular Christmas 
hamper! My dear N s, whom I dashed round to 

■'*• Brahms was studying Italian with a viQW to travelling in Italy, 


see yesterday through a blinding snowstorm, a nice 
big parcel under my arm, did not know what to think 
at first, and were as delighted as children. Up to now 
they have practically lived on attacks made on our 
music cupboards, and certain things — as, for instance, 
your G minor quartet — would disappear for six months 
at a time. And now — they have come into their fortune, 
and we shall no longer miss our music. So you see 
we profit, too, by what we surrendered to them, and 
have kept back various things, since you permitted it : 
the sextets in duet form, Rinaldo and the serenades, 
in return for which we made over the D major, which 
we had, to our friends. We rang in Sunday after our 
own fashion to-day by playing over the A major with 
the deepest delight. We had not looked at it for some 
time, and were quite sentimental over meeting the 
dear familiar thing again. 

The friend who now enjoys the concerts of the 
higher spheres was evidently full of love for these 
treasures, and I am therefore not sorry that they 
should pass from your indifferent hands into our not 
unloving care. 

Is it really no oversight that the Mozart and Cheru- 
bini Requiems were included ? Glad as we should be 
to have the scores, we have not quite the courage to 
appropriate them until you write and say : 

' Sei gutcn Miits, O Heinrich mein, 
Nimm diese Bretzen, sie sei Dein.' 

And now let me thank you once more, you dear 

Friend, in the N s' name (they will be writing on 

their own account), and in our own. It was really 
particularly nice of you to take all this trouble and 
display such generosity. 


To-morrow we have an amusement in prospect. We 
are going to Halle to hear Billow conduct one of his 
Beethoven concerts. Heinz is bent on having a look 
at the show just once, and I am curious too, though it 
can hardly be less impossible than his piano-playing. 

Good-bye, dear Friend, and do send us the canons 
all the same. We can still condescend to make room 
for such trifles. Our * Miss ' thanks you for the 
Requiem. She received the German edition after all, 

as the N s had it. She scorns the English one! — 

As ever, ^ Herzogenberg. 

85. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] March 27, 1881. 

My dear Friend, — You delighted us very much with 
your portrait, in which we recognize the real you, and 
appreciate the good, happy expression which photo- 
graphers so seldom catch. It is almost tragic to be 
writing to Siena.* Every attempt at communication 
seems paralyzed when one realizes so vividly how 
safely out of reach you are. How can it interest you 
to know what we are doing here under our heavy 
leaden skies? I am really touched that you should 
desire a letter at Siena. Indeed, I am only writing 
to thank you for the good Brahms on the little easel 
(which is always falling over), next to the big divan on 
which you were sometimes pleased to rest after the 

* Brahms went to Italy on March 15. His second Italian tour was 
longer and more extended than the first. Theodor Billroth and 
Professor Adolf Exner travelled with him, but left him behind in 
Rome, where he wished to spend more time. The route lay through 
Venice, Florence, Siena, Orvieto, Rome, and Naples, to Sicily, return- 
ing by Florence and Pisa. Brahms returned to Vienna on May 7, his 
forty-eighth birthday. 


enormous fatigues of Leipzig's festivities in your 
honour ! Heavens ! what a sorry figure Leipzig must 
cut, v^hen you take your retrospective bird's-eye view 
of the winter tours, beside the gay Rhenish towns, and 
warm-hearted Holland, where you passed like a hero 
from triumph to triumph ! It always makes me envious 
to read Frau Emma's reports from Amsterdam and 

We are always having fresh trouble and disappoint- 
ments here. For one thing. Rust* is having the 
G minor fugue, arranged for orchestra, played at St. 
Thomas's on Palm Sunday. He has also set some Choral 
Vorspiele for four voices, with an appropriate text, and 
he is your nominee ! We have further endured a 
thoroughly bad performance of the second part of 
Faust.] Heinrich sang in the chorus ! He wanted 
to look into it closely ; and I went too, but only for one 
rehearsal. I could not stand their slovenly ways, and 
promptly excused myself It was tragic to hear them 
scramble through the ninth symphony, too. Such 
occasions always make us wish we could see and hear 
you conduct these things — with your swinging beat, 
which means so much; your expressive arm-move- 
ments, which always respond to an impulse from 
within, and are not merely designed to extract certain 
results from others ; your natural oneness with the 
music, which excludes any paltry nervousness, as it 
does deliberately planned effects. 

Oh, that Halle concert t was really charming! But 

* Wilhelm Rust (1822- 1892), organist and cantor at St. Thomas's. 

t Schumann's setting. 

X Billow's Beethoven performance icf. Letter 84). The writer saw 
fit to correct her harsh judgment of Biilow later. Biilow only posed 
as a witty interpreter aiming at special effects — in his piano-playing 
as in his conducting — until he was sure of himself, his orchestra, and 


one dared say nothing. Everybody lay prostrate before 
this anointed one, who bore himself like a priest ele- 
vating the Host in the glittering monstrance for the 
first time. At times he seemed to be giving a repulsive 
anatomy lecture. It was as if he were making the 
experiment of stripping an antique statue of its lovely 
flesh, and forcing one to worship the workings of bone 
and muscle. It is pleasant enough to realize the spring 
that works the machinery, but it ceases to be pleasant 
when it is laid bare and pointed out in the coarsest 
fashion. Bulow's affected little pauses before every 
new phrase, every notable change in harmony, are 
quite unpardonable. In the last movement of the 
A major he even introduced full stops here, there, and 
wherever he saw fit ; every bar had its own particular 
shading. The Coriolan overture was played with a 
slowness without precedent, even where the climax 
comes; the exciting 'cello part sounded strange enough 
in such tempo. In short, the whole performance was 
designed to show himself \n Beethoven's mantle. When 
he turned round in his inimitable way to take stock of 
the audience — needless to say he conducted everything 
without a score — I couldn't help thinking of someone 
else, who once said to us before a Gewandhaus con- 
cert : * If only I don't forget I am at a concert this 
evening, and stop the orchestra, as 1 easily might, 
without thinking !' 

By the way, we had your friend Th. here. He is a 
quiet Hamburger, but no * stick ' ; for when Kirchner 
began to abuse — (much to my alarm), Th. laughed 

his audience. His extravagances were to him a necessary coercive 
measure. Once he felt himself master of the situation and at home 
with his audience, his interpretation lost its personal character, and 
became a simple expression of the music, which he had really at heart. 



quite gaily, and said it was delightful to hear anyone 
speak his mind in that way. Kirchner has written 
some graceful and pretty — that is, really appropriate — 
duets : a perfect shoal of them, of course ! He is as 
prolific as a rabbit, and really produces nothing but 
these tricky little wrigglers. Yet all his things are 
so graceful, and so exquisitely musical, compared with 
all the amateurish trash one sees, that one cannot but 
welcome them. 

But I have let off steam enough for one da}^ Let me 
just congratulate you on having really set foot in Italy. 
I am so glad I know Siena, and can picture your delight 
when you come upon the amphitheatre-like market- 
place. If you should come in for the races there, they 
are said to be most exciting. The people wear their 
oldest clothes, and the decked-out horses tear down 
the enclosure at such a pace that there is invariably 
some small mishap. The winner has a seat at table 
when they hold their feast, and has its nose kissed by 
the women who backed it. If you have a chance, you 
should drive through San Gimignano to Volterra. 
The scenery is gloriously wild and impressive, and 
Volterra is quite unique. It was there I heard a small 
boy sing something which reminded me of the second 
movement of the concerto.* It had fascinating words 

about a chamber in which a thousand memories lay 
buried. The marble workers spend half the night, 

* Brahms, violin concerto : 



or the whole of it, singing, and one of them said : * He 
is unwise who sleeps at night ; for if we work by day, 
when are we to sing ? ' Ah, how beautiful everything 
is there ; how wasteful, how natural and inevitable ! 
There is such reckless profusion of light and warmth 
and unconscious beauty that one ends by accepting it 
all as a matter of course. 

I can think of you in the midst of it all without envy, 
for you deserve it ; but I do begrudge it hideously to 
some who go. Take care of yourself in Sicily, for 
everyone catches cold there. Keep it well aired, our 
old friend — the dear, brown, no longer muddy over- 

Well, good-bye. I shall not write again for a long 
time, which accounts for the disgraceful length of this. 
You are travelling with Professor Billroth, are you 
not ? How nice if we could meet him some day ! 
Why does he never come to a premiere at the Gewand- 
haus ? One more, thank you for the Requiems which 
we have now really appropriated. Kindest regards 
from the Rontgens and ' Miss.' — Ever your devoted 


86. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

Rome, April, 1881. 

Dear Friend, — I am just back from Sicily, and must 
really send you at least a line or two. My steel pent 
will not inspire me to more, and it is impossible on 
other grounds. Will you give the enclosed to Fritzsch ? 

* Brahms was always reluctant to order a new suit of clothes on 
account of the trouble it involved. He would wear the same things 
year after year, and much resented being reminded by his friends 
that his wardrobe needed replenishing. 

t Brahms used quill pens which he trimmed for himself. 


The solution will be printed later, so I can send it any 
time.* No need to say how much I am enjoying myself 
here. I hope my letters are being published, either 
by Fritzsch or in the Taghlati ? — and I should be sorry 
to repeat myself If 

Many thanks for writing to me at Siena ; I shall go 
there again on the way back. But everything is so 
undecided — indeed, I prefer it so — that I cannot ask 
you to write. My movements depend on my whim, 
the weather, and various attractions that may offer. 

So for to-day I will content myself with settling 

Fritzsch's affair, while asking you to be content with 

the assurance that I often think of you, and should be 

only too glad of a long chat. But that is out of the 

question. — Yours ever, 


87. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Jena beim Paradies,| July 3, 1881. 

Dear Friend, — I once had a terrible aunt, who, as 
she came out of a splendid picture-gallery, exclaimed 
with feeling : ' All very fine and nice ; but it is of far 
greater importance that we should love our Saviour!' 
I should like to say something of the kind to you in 
your voluntary hiding. To go to Italy and feast your 
eyes and take your fill of enjoyment is all very fine 
and nice ; but to remember your friends just occasion- 
ally is of importance also. Do let us hear something 
about you, particularly your present whereabouts, and 

* A fresh copy of the canon (c/. Letters 8i and 82) for the editor of 
the Mtisikalisches Wochenblatt. Brahms's solution was never pubHshcd. 

f This is not to be taken literally. He not only sent no descriptions 
of his travels, but declined to have letters forwarded. 

% An old-fashioned pleasure resort on the bank of the Saale. 



whether there is any chance of seeing you at the end 
of the summer, for that is the only time left at our 
disposal. We have had such strange bad luck this 
year. The first calamity is that we are still tied here 
(I literally, on my back*), where I had the indiscretion 
to entrust myself to a doctor. He has restored my 
good health and spirits, I admit, but only after two 
months. The second is, that instead of going to a dear 
little cool Alpine place to convalesce, as one would 
like, or to a nice little wood near by, we are going to — 
Venice, musty and unattractive as it is just now. My 
poor broken-down mother hopes to find it bearable 
there for the summer. She has no courage to try 
any place farther north again, with her bronchitis and 
lung trouble. 

It is hard on us, but we remind ourselves that one 
only has one mother, and ought to be willing to 
sacrifice something for her. I am hoping the sea- 
bathing will set me up. I don't know how long we 
shall be able to stay there — possibly only a fortnight. 
After that we go on to the Ritten above Bozens, to 
Heinrich's relatives. The air is splendid, and will, 
we hope, compensate us for the canal odours our 
devotion has led us to absorb. We shall then be free 
for a short space in September, and who knows if we 
may not meet you somehow, by hook or by crook ? 
If you were at Portschach, as of old, we should 
like to visit you there ; but I fear Ischl will claim 
you again, and that is too far out of our way. 
Or will your September movements be more favour- 
able to us? That would be delightful. . . . But 
do send a sign of life first of all, for I am so 
shut up here. I was quite alone the first month, 
* The letter is written in pencil. 


without Heinz even, for he could not leave Leipzig 
any affection from outside is therefore doubly wel- 
come. Music means more than it ever did, after two 
months' deprivation, and nothing in the world could 
give me more pleasure than to have any odd scrap of 
manuscript paper, that somebody had no particular 
use for, sent me in a letter. I really think anything 
new of yours, if it were only a few bars, would set 
me up so that I should be given my liberty some days 
sooner, and pronounced cured. You are sometimes 
moved to do things from * sheer kindness of heart,' as 
Herr Chrysander* once discovered ; there were one or 
two things in his clever little article which delighted 
us by their genuine enthusiasm. But 1 was amused 
at the way he dragged in his Handel, and the Bach- 
worship, which seems to him one-sided, even in you. 
Handel is to Chrysander much what Wagner is to 
Fritzsch — a Jack-in-the-box, always popping up un- 
expectedly. But the most amusing thing of all was 
to have (in a recent number of Fritzsch's paper) 
Wagner pop up, pressed by some invisible spring, 
in a discussion on the Gregorian chants, if you please! 
The point was that his reforms were founded on the 
choral! Heavens! what idiocy one does read (or as 
a rule does not read, but Jena is so demoralizing !), 
and how brightly an article like Chrysander's shines 
by contrast ! It says so much for it that, dear as is the 
friend under discussion, one does not take offence at 
any point. 

Do you know anything about Frau Schumann ? 
I only know she is going to Gastein. My last com- 

* Friedrich Chrysander (1826-1901) edited Handel, and wrote his 
biography in the AUgcmcinc Musikalischc Zeitung, of which he was 
editor. The article referred to is in No. 22 of vol. xvi. 



munication with her had to do with some of Schumann's 
proof-sheets, which worried me considerably, as I 
knew nothing of the deliberately differing versions of 
the Davidsbundler. How do you play the passage in 
the last number, or last but one {Wie aus der Ferne^ 
B major) ? 

Like this, or with E natural straight away ? We are 
told to play it with E now, but E sharp seems to me 
incomparably better. How effectively the E comes in 
after it ! In Kirchner's manuscript it is different again. 
There is no E sharp, but a depressing double sharp 
before the F. What an overwhelming task this editing 
must be ! Who would be responsible for deciding on 
a particular E or E sharp for all eternity ? 

My devoted Heinz sends very kindest regards. His 
room is over mine — a student's den like this one. 
Jena is a friendly little place. One would like to be 
here with an opportunity of seeing more than one's 
own four walls. Heinrich has explored all the moun- 
tains, and is in ecstasies over the positively Alpine 
flora here and the peaceful German landscape. 

Give you greeting ! Send us a line before we leave, 
please. I shall only be here one week more precisely. 
The whole Rontgen family is in Amsterdam for the 
christening. That dear, happy couple ! Jena in Para- 
dise is, as you see, the abode of yours sincerely, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 


88. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Pressbaum, Jtily 5, 1881.] 

Are you not going to send me a line one of these 
days ?* Where are you now, and where do you go 

You really are too careful to avoid Austria now that 
I am there. 

I am spending the summer at Pressbaum, near 
Vienna. How nice it would be if you came to visit 
your friends in Vienna, and me thrown in ! Your wife 
has, I believe, been undergoing treatment from Franz 
or Voretzscht — or possibly a regular Kur? Mean- 
while do please let me have a line. — Yours very 


J. Br. 

89. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Pressbaum, July 7, 1881.] 

My dear Friend, — Just a hurried note to thank you 
for your most kind letter. I had just sent off a shabby 
card, being lazier than you. 

I can understand doing anything for one's mother, 
but I presume you asked a doctor's permission before 
arranging to go to Venice at this time of year ! 

I am spending the summer at Pressbaum, near 
Vienna. My little villa is quite charming, and I often 
think how nicely it would suit you two. I confused 
Halle and Jena with respect to you. Don't spoil the 
effect of your Kur by the journey to Venice ! . . . 
I should like to send you something worthier than 
these hurried lines, but it is impossible just at 

* The letters had crossed. f Two Halle doctors. 


this moment. I don't mind telling you that I have 
written a tiny, tiny piano concerto* with a tiny, tiny 
wisp of a scherzo. It is in B flat, and I have reason 
to fear I have worked this udder, which has always 
yielded good milk before, too often and too vigorously. 

Frau Schumann is just leaving for Gastein. She 
expects to go to Italy in the autumn. 

But I am just off to Vienna, and your stay 'near' 

Paradise is also at an end. I only ask to be kept more 

or less posted up, and should like to be able to look 

forward to Berchtesgaden. — With kindest regards, 

yours most sincerely, 

J. Br. 

90. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Jena, July 10, 1881. 

How very nice of you, my dear good Friend, to take 
up your pen again immediately ! I have to thank you 
doubly, since you had such good news to send of a 
tiny, tiny piano Konzerterl with a tiny, tiny Scherzerl^\ 
and in B flat — the true and tried B flat ! That is some- 
thing to look forward to until the autumn, ' something 
to keep jolly 'J when other things go wrong — as, for 
instance, our meeting, which seems to me very 
problematical. Think a minute ! Last year we did go 
to Berchtesgaden, but this year it is really too far out 
of the way. Last year no Brahms came to see us, 

■* The great B flat concerto, Op. 83, in four movements. Brahms 
sent it when completed to his friend Bihroth on July 11, with the 
note : ' I am sending you some small piano pieces.' It was actually 
finished on July 7. 

f Scherzerl is the name given to the crusty ends of a long roll of 
bread in Vienna. 

X Frau Herzogenberg's own words in the original. — Tr. 


much as we desired it, while this year he is quite 
ready to go ! It is always the way : Da wo du nicht 
bist^ ist das Gluck* You know, by my card, that I 
realized the impossibility of completing my Kur in 
Venice with my mother, and that, having discovered 
the possibility of sea-bathing until September, we 
decided to put off the Venetian journey until then. 
It was a load off my mind, for I had no peace for 
thinking of the average temperature there (22 degrees 
Reamur), especially as I always have to lie down (in 
a darkened room) when it is 23 degrees. It has turned 
cooler now, and the very thought of the Tyrol is cool 
and refreshing. 

Why are you so far away in your fine villa, you 
spoilt person ? If you have your seven beds as usual, 
you might really invite us, you know. 

% % % % % 

And now good-bye. You shall hear from us, and 
I hope some kind fate may bring us together. Mean- 
while you have given us something — a great deal — in 
announcing your concerto. 

We shall certainly be another six days here. I am 
still a prisoner, and can only detect the spring (now 
past !) through casual signs, the particular one being 
a blackbird, who sings every day : 


I am in such good spirits over my approaching 
release that it makes me babble. — Yours, as ever, 

E. H. 

* From Schubert's song, * The Wanderer.'— Tr. 
t The melody of Frcui Euch des Lebens. 


91. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Graz, October i, 1881. 

My very dear Friend, — Late as we are in knocking 
at your door, we hope very much to find you at home. 
We were delayed in leaving Venice, after a month 
spent there, by my not being well, and have had to 
make a further halt here for the same reason. We 
shall arrive in our old Leipzig a whole week late, like 
real tramps ; yet we cannot resist stopping in Vienna 
to shake hands with a few dear friends. It is difficult 
to fit in everything, as we can only stay two nights ; 
so we must arrange our meetings with great care, if 
we don't want to miss the best. If you are still at 
Pressbaum, we should prefer to look you up there, as 
we particularly wish to see you in your beloved 
* WaldeinsamkeiV We hope, too, that our thirsty ears 
may drink in a tiny something which we can take 
away with us, and feast upon, until the good time later 
on when you come with it yourself But who knows 
whether you are still there in this wintry weather ? 
I am writing to Karlsstrasse for safety. Please let us 
have a friendly word in reply immediately, and should 
this reach you later than to-morrow, please send a 
telegram telling us where to find you. We shall not 
stir out until four in the afternoon, so we shall probably 
be here to receive your answer. Anyway, we must 
see our dear friend, if he is in or near Vienna. We 
should like best to come early on the 6th and steal one 
of your beautiful mornings. We are tied until eleven 
o'clock on the 5th by a sister who is passing through, 
and I am expected to lunch at my friends the 
Obersteiners', in Oberdobling. We have placed our- 

AT HOME 137 

selves at Epstein's* disposal for the evening. I have 
not seen him for years, and owe him some considera- 
tion. But, as I said, I should like to begin the day 
well, and with you, on the 6th, if you can do with us. 
How I hope you are still there! Otherwise the 
measure of our ill-luck for this year is really full. The 
6th is called Thursday, and we are called Herzo- 
genberg, and are staying at a certain Ruhberg, to 
which address may it please you to write. We are 
longing to see you, dear Friend, to rifle your drawers 
and to revel in your music and your kindness. 

If you like us half as much as we like you, you too 
will look forward just a little to seeing your sincerely 
devoted Herzogenbergs. 

92. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, October, 1881.] 
Welcome most heartily to Vienna ! I shall certainly 
be at home at eleven o'clock, though all on heaps. But 
you travel like royalties positively, only more so, for 
one cannot even stand and watch your arrival. — Your 
supremely delighted J. Br. 

93. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] Humboldtstrasse, 

October 28-29, 1881. 

I have been so smothered in household rubbish and 
Leipzig smuts that I have been an incredible age 
thanking you for all your kindness in Vienna. The 
treasures we carried away with us, the gratitude which 
stirred us without ceasing, my feelings henceforward 
when I write Karlsstrasse 4, now that I can take a 

♦ Her old master (c/. Letter 17, note). 


personal, interest in that excellent dwelling-place — all 
this I hope you are better able to imagine than I to 
describe. Above all, remember that we (much like 
you) never mean more than when we jest or even say 
nothing at all — as, for instance, after Ndnie.^ I envy 
people who vibrate eloquently on receiving great im- 
pressions. I vibrate m3^self. Heaven knows ; but even 
a dog is more eloquent, for he at least howls at the 
moon — which I choose to consider a sign of enthusiasm 
in this case, to bear out my statement. But the morti- 
fying reflection inevitably follows : how eloquent one 
becomes as soon as there is anything to criticize ! 
There is such a fine choice of words for deliberate 
fault-finding, yet one seeks in vain for the right, the 
comprehensive word to relieve one's feelings after 
moments of real enjoyment. But what a poor thing 
speech is, even for the born speaker ! Are not the 
few expressions we have to describe all that is best 
and finest done to death ? Yet one would so like to 
reserve a distinctive word for every individual genius, 
just as one would like to have a dii for one's husband as 
distinct from the du of one's good friends. But we 
must make the best of what we have, and be thankful 
when the very one to whom we would fain say some- 
thing — you, for instance — are as good at divining as 
we are tongue-tied. 

We have had an eventful week, which is not over 
yet. The last Gewandhaus concert provided a re- 
markable programme : Hiller's Demetrms,'\ Liszt's 

* Brahms's Ndnie for chorus and orchestra, Op. 82, dedicated to 
the memory of Feuerbach, the artist, was begun in 1880, the year of 
his death. Brahms had completed it during the summer, and played 
it to the Herzogenbergs in Vienna. 

t Overture by Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885), pianist, composer, 
and writer on music. 


Tasso* and our dear good Julius,t a worldling between 
two entirely discredited prophets. If Hiller pays any 
more visits to the invisible world (you heard of his 
latest delicious production, in which Schumann and 
Mendelssohn tell him such charming home-truths? J), 
he will have to listen to some nice things from the 
blessed Demetrius. It is hard to say which is worse : 
the decent dulness of a Hiller or the indecent dulness 
of a Liszt! Both are intensely exhausting. Julius 
Rontgen, with his piano concerto, proved a graceful 
and agreeable contrast, refreshingly musical. You 
were very unmistakably sponsor to the composition — 
he can hardly pretend to have invented it all himself — 
but, dear me, we can't all live on our income ! Most 
people borrow somewhere, and when it is from the 
right person it is pretty enough to listen to, par- 
ticularly when, as in this case, one feels the young 
pulse of a genuine musician and a thoroughly nice 
fellow beating through it all. It is good to find such 
a warm, unfailing flow of sentiment, even though it be 
borrowed sentiment, and the audience were of that 
opinion. But the critics put on their wisest, most 
annihilating expression, and harped in a superior 
way on the lack of originality. * Under the ban of 
Brahms ' is to them conclusive. . . . Mothers are to 
be envied indeed, even the one, mourner though she 
be, to whom you dedicate the dirge.§ 
To us this piece is as the dearest and most splendid 

* Symphonic poem for orchestra. 

t Julius Rontgen. 

% Hiller had published a series of articles in the Deutsche Rundschau, 
called Besuche im Jenscits, which he afterwards incorporated in his 
Erinnerungshldtter (1884). 

§ Brahms had dedicated Niinie to Frau Hcnriette Feuerbach, the 
artist's mother. 


of our possessions — for we do possess it in part — 
though we wish Abraham* would hurry up, or, better 
still, that you would, so that we can soon hear it again, 
and many times over. The Rontgens are always 
asking us to ' describe ' it, and the concerto toot; but 
I am not Ehlert,^ and could find nothing to say about 
them that did not sound insipid. Nothing but hearing 
them can be of any use. And now for my great 
request ! Please, please, please send me the piano 
score of the orchestral part to practise, so that you will 
not have to suffer so much when you play it with me. 
I am sure you will ; you are so pious and good. I 
know Briill § has played it with you (lucky those who 
were present !) and it may be lying there idle at this 
moment. In that case it would be much safer here, 
where its only danger lies in being torn to pieces 
through excess of zeal. When, when are you really 
coming ? Has your vacillation come to an end ? How 
long shall you stay, and will there be a performance 
of Ndnie ? The Thomaner are not equal to it by them- 
selves ; you must have the Gewandhaus chorus. We 
were thinking it would be suitable for the New Year's 
concert, when the Thomaner are always pressed into 
service, and would prove a useful reinforcement. 
People are saying you will be here in a week or ten 
days. We alone have no information. 

* Dr. Max Abraham, head of the firm of Peters at the time. N'dnie 
was pubHshed by him in 1881. 

t The two new compositions which Brahms had played to the 
Herzogenbergs in Vienna. 

% Cf. Letter 72. 

§ Ignaz Briill (b. 1846), composer and pianist. Brahms much 
appreciated his quick comprehension and clever, musicianly playing, 
and often asked his assistance when he wished to introduce any of 
his larger compositions to his intimate friends in Vienna. 


Most of us here grudge your generosity to Biilow.* 
He made himself very, very unpopular last year by 
seizing the first opportunity of abusing the Gewand- 
haus, upon which the orchestra refused to play the 
ninth symphony under him again. 

Heinrich sends messages. If you only knew how we 
two look forward to seeing that good old brown over- 
coat ! Only yesterday (I must explain that a whole 
section of Liszt's Chrishts] comes between the beginning 
and the end of this scrawl) we were saying: Really, how 
can such contrasts exist side by side ? and how can one 
person conduct — to-day a certain Requiem^ to-morrow 
this Christus ? How is such an organism to be classified ? 
This music is detestable, and will * sink into oblivion 
without a ripple.'t 

Good-bye, good-bye, giver of much good ! We look 
forward to seeing you. — Your devoted 


94. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, November 2, 1881.] 

Dear Friend, — I am taking up a scrap of paper 
to write, not a letter, but a slight acknowledgment 
of yours. I cannot send the concerto, as it is already 
in Simrock's hands (arranged for two pianos, by the 
way). I am coming for the first of January, but there 
will be no Ndnie. The Thomaner are not available, as 
Rust very lucidly explains in a lengthy epistle. It 
really is terrible, the things they expect of these 
youths ! 

* See note to Letter 95. + Oratorio. 

I The words are a quotation from Nanie. 


It was charming at Meiningen,* you know. We did 
some very fine and very enjoyable music. 

But a poor touring concert-giver like myself has a 
lot of correspondence, and we can have a good talk 
on New Year's Eve. If you think Ndnie could be done 
without the Thomaner, please speak to Limburger 
or somebody about it I can't write myself — but wait ! 
I have to write to Limburger, anyway, so I will just 
mention it, and you can proceed or not as you like. 

Addio, and forgive this slovenly writing. — Yours, 


95. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, November 14, 1881.] 

I must just tell you, dear Friend, that we have 
had Ndnie here for one day. We gave up a stupid 
Sunday to her, as far as we could for interruptions. 
Ndnie is now my best friend. I am always playing 
it in imagination as well as I can remember it, and 
revel in the syllables which scan so perfectly. I sing 
hymns of praise to the hexameter which has served 
you so well, and am so happy in the added wealth with 
which you have again enriched us. Ndnie is one of 

* Biilow had surprised Brahms in July, 1881, with a very cordial 
invitation to come and use the perfectly drilled Ducal Orchestra (he 
had been Hofmusikintendant at Meiningen since October, 1880) to 
rehearse any novelties he might have. Brahms replied that he had 
only the piano concerto, which, much as it needed rehearsing, was 
hardly suitable for Meiningen. Biilow insisted to the contrary, and 
Brahms was easily persuaded. He went to Meiningen in the middle 
of October, was received with much consideration, and returned to 
play his concerto on November 27, Biilow conducted on this occasion, 
and the result was an ideal rendering. In the meantime Brahms 
had played it at Buda-Pesth on the 9th, and Hungary enjoys the 
honour of having secured the first public performance. 

'NANIE' 143 

those things of which you cannot merely say you have 
heard or played them, but rather that they have been 
an experience. But I am so glad I heard you play 
it first of all in your cosy Karlsstrasse ! That exquisite 
earliest impression will always remain, side by side 
with all subsequent hearings. Even if they do not 
give it at the Gewandhaus,* we two feel that we have 
heard it and know something about it. It was a very 
great help, too, to have a copy by us, and play it 
through a time or two. How vividly it stands out 
in my memory, each part for itself and the whole 
in its wonderful unity ! One is loth to pick and 
choose, — but oh, the sweet Aphrodite part in F, 
the bewitching passage at the splitting of the Eber, 
the splendid seething of the wave-triplets in F sharp 
when the goddess rises from the sea, the syncopated 
weeping of the 'gods, and the breathless suspense at the 
words, ' Dass das Schone vergeht^ where it dies away ! 
One would like to mention everything, but above all the 
blissful ending, for which you deserve every blessing ! 
How thrilling are the different voice entries, and how 
splendidly it works up and lingers on the dominant — 












©»— J-T— S-T 

passing with the more refreshing effect into D major 

at the words, * im Mund der Geliebten ' (I have written 

it all wrong, of course. I don't know this particular 

* The Committee decided on the piano concerto, which Brahms 
accordingly played on January ist. 


place well, but you know what I mean, and agree, 
I hope, in thinking it splendid). That F in the basses 
is a triumph. 

Good-bye, you dear man ! We are as proud of you 
as if it were our fault that you did such beautiful 
things ! 

It ought to rejoice your soul that you are able to 

bring happiness to so many in this weary world, though 

to few in such full measure as to your devoted and 



96. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, November 14, 1881.] 

My very dear Friend, — It is only because you spoke 
of coming to Meiningen for one or other of the concerts 
that I am writing to say that the works of yours most 
humbly, the undersigned master, are put down for the 
27th of November {a.m. /). 

There is a public rehearsal at seven o'clock on the 
evening of the 26th, and you might listen privately to the 
Haydn Variations^ etc., in the morning. In short, you 
will be able to enjoy a regular surfeit of the works of 
yours etc., and you will never hear the things so well 
done at Leipzig. 

I shall be at the Sachsischer Hof If you really are 
coming, please write and engage your rooms there in 
good time. 

N.B. — The 'Tragic,' the piano concerto, the 'Aca- 
demic,' and the C minor symphony, are put down 
for the concert 

N. B. — Rooms only, mind ! Your most humble servant 
will see to the tickets. 


It really is worth while, particularly if you take 
a few days and hear some of the rehearsals. These 
fellows play quite excellently, and they have no concep- 
tion of such rehearsing, such practising, at Leipzig. 
You have no idea what pleasure it would give yours 
etc., to see you there. 

Kindest regards to your trio-composer,* and perhaps 

you may find a word to say to yours etc., 

J. Br. 

From November 20th to 22nd : Stuttgart, Hotel 

97. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] November, 1881. 

The practice of self-denial is supposed to be salutary, 
and I must seek comfort in that; for I cannot go to 
Meiningen, and I am going to tell you frankly why ! 
We have to be particularly careful over what we spend 
just now at the end of the year, for what with my ' battle 
of Jena' and the dreadful long journey to my mother in 
Venice, we have spent such a lot already. 

I am skimping my poor people and must skimp 
myself, and deny myself the greatest, the best, most 
beautiful treat I could ever have. I need not assure 
you at great length how hard it hits me. You know 
me, and you know how I should appreciate hearing 
my most-beloved music so delicately treated, when I 
usually hear it done in a rough, slovenly fashion. 
But, as I said, one must be firm with oneself on 
occasion, when reason demands it. Heinrich can't 
resist it, however ; he can do a short stay cheaply, as 

* Herzogenberg. 



he is only one, and it will be almost half as good as 
going, to hear all about it from him, and to think of 
him there. But I do claim a little sympathy, for mine 
is assuredly no small sacrifice. 

But let me thank you for writing, and for really 
caring, as it seemed, for us to come. That is dear of 
you, and my only request is that you will think of me 
a wee bit in the particularly beautiful parts — for instance, 
at the end of the first movement of the C minor,* where 
those yearning chords come on the B flat minor beats. 

Just so will your only half-resigned E. H. yearn on 
the 27th. 

98. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, November 18, 1881.] 

Many thanks for your kind letters. What must be 
will be! But I should think twice before letting my 
husband go off alone. You could make up for it by 
economy somewhere — about New Year, for instance!! 

Kindest regards in any case from a poor 


99. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December 26, 1881.] 

I wish I could have announced my arrival at the 
Palmbaum or at your house, but it would not come in 

* The C minor symphony. See full score, p. 25, bars 13-15. 
•f The economy to be practised on the occasion of his own pro- 
posed visit to them. 


time. I may turn up before this post-card, in the small- 
hours, when even a poet has turned in — or is not yet 
up. Take the precaution to read the police news 
these days anyway. ... I may have been charitably 

run in ! — Your poor 


100. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] January 3, 1882. 
My dear Herr Doktor, — Here are the desired 
bird-notes.* If you had not left definite orders, I 
should really be ashamed to send you such discredit- 
able stuff, although, looked at in a humorous light, it 
has its charm. Hanslick's cordial words were so re- 
freshing after it. My dear father sent me his critique 
this morning as the ' best New Year's greeting,' and I 
have just read it properly. I could almost envy the 
man his power of expressing himself, if not exhaustively, 
yet with an intuitive sympathy, which not only pro- 
vides an outlet for his own feelings but helps others 
who have no command of words to express theirs. I 
am one of the most helpless, and my Heinz another. 
How often do we stand dumb and miserable before 
you, seeking comfort in the thought that you must 
know whether we have the right sounding-board for 

♦ The Leipzig press notices. One of the critics was named 
Bernhard Vogel ( = Bird), hence perhaps the expression. He wrote 
for the Leifziger Neuesten Nachrichien, and is the author of a mono- 
graph on Brahms. The Musikalisches Wochcnblatt, edited by Fritzsch, 
which had championed Brahms warmly from the first, was obhged 
to admit that the attitude of the pubhc towards Brahms's new com- 
positions (he had played his concerto and the two rhapsodies, 
Op. 79, on New Year's Day) was rather apathetic than encouraging. 
' One can hardly say,' ran the notice, * that the Gewandhduskr 
showed any particular appreciation of their guest's importance in 
general, or of his new work in particular.' 

10 — 2 


your music in our hearts, and the right reverence for 
its author. But it does seem sometimes as if you were 
hardly conscious of it, as if it wanted putting into 
words. . . . Your clumsy friends have their worst 
moments then. 

You were rather harsh with Madame de Herzogen- 
berg recently, and she had neither sufficient wit nor 
nerve to hide the fact that she was hurt. I ought to 
be sorry, but it is my weakness to imagine that you 
may remember the incident with the same kind 
leniency as that of the Ischl dog, who — more sensitive 
than myself — could never forget that blow, while I am 
already comforted by the attitude with which my im- 
agination credits you. 

Besides, we should be quite too badly in your debt if 
you did not occasionally need forgiveness yourself! 

God bless you for your good deeds, and may you be 
very, very happy now that you are entirely with people 
who, Hanseatic* as they are, know how to appreciate 
you, though few can do it so thoroughly as your 
ever-grateful old Herzogenbergs. 

10 1. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] March ii, 1882. 

My dear Friend, — I happened to take up your letterf 
again, and find, to my horror, that you propose to come 
on the 17th. But the Brahms-concert| is next Tuesday, 

* Brahms had gone to Hamburg from Leipzig to play his new 
concerto there on January 6. 

t The letter is missing. 

X The * Brahms-concert ' was the second of three concerts given at 
Leipzig by Biilow with the Meininger Kapelle. On this occasion he 
conducted the C minor symphony and the orchestral variations on a 
Haydn theme, and played the pianoforte concerto in D minor. 


the 14th, so do, for Heaven's sake, be here ! Bulow 

will surely have set you right in the meantime, but 

I will send off these lines for greater safety. 

How we are looking forward to seeing you ! — Your 



In Billow's Mendelssohn-Schumann concert, Schu- 
mann was represented by the Hermann iind Dorothea 
and Messina overtures, and the Phantasie for violin — 
to us an inexplicable selection.* 

102. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, March 13, 1882.] 

Your letter is a welcome intimation that B .f is not 
counting on me, or he would certainly have notified 
me of the change. 

If he had, I think I should have come to listen to all 
three concerts, taking trips to Weimar and Jena in 
between. I had all sorts of plans ! — In haste, yours, 

J. Br. 

103. Elisabet vo7t Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] March 15, 1882. 

My VERY DEAR Friend, — I must losc no time in telling 
you how splendid it was yesterday. I have never 
heard your things done like that before. The onl}^ 
time we have a glimpse of their real effect is when you 
conduct a first performance ; any subsequent perform- 
ances are listless, mechanical readings. But even 

* Billow's object was to overcome what he considered to be an 
unwarranted prejudice against the works of Schumann's latest period. 
t Biilow. 


when you are there, what can you get out of such 
short rehearsals ? This time there was beauty of 
sound to satisfy the senses, while every feature was 
brought out with due effect. Above all, there was a 
glow of genuine enthusiasm over the whole, sufficiently 
infectious to cause even a Gewandhaus audience to 
relax. Do you know, they quite lost their heads at the 
end of the C minor! The din was so great that we 
had to ask ourselves if that were really the Gewand- 
haus with the same people sitting there. The fact is, 
there was not the usual preponderance of prim, tiresome 
femininity, barely out of its teens ; but fresh, young, 
listening faces and older ones who cannot get into the 
Gewandhaus ordinarily were there, all under a spell 
that deepened with every number, all attention from 
head to foot, smiling happily at this or that point — in 
a word, so charming and sympathetic that one felt like 
kissing some of them. As the Allegretto* in A flat 
received comparatively little applause, Bulow promptly 
repeated it. Then came the deluge I Oh, how happy 
we were in our corner : Ethel,t we three, the enthusi- 
astic Reuss,t Bezold and the Engelmanns, the Wachs,§ 
and old Frau Holstein !|| We made a heathenish noise, 
my brotherIF shouting encore at the finish like one 
possessed, though whether he wanted the whole 
symphony or only the last movement repeated he 
refuses to say. We were just like children, and all 
felt we had come into our own at last. Billow has 

* The third movement of the symphony. 

t Miss Ethel Smyth. 

X Heinrich XXVI., Prince of Reuss-Kostritz (b. 1855), a well-known 
composer, pupil of Herzogenberg. 

§ Adolf Wach (b. 1843), a famous jurist, Mendelssohn's son-in-law, 
had been Professor at Leipzig University since 1875. 

II Hedwig von Holstein. ^ Ernst von Stockhausen, 


never impressed me as he did last night. The accom- 
paniment to the D minor concerto was literally perfect, 
and I heard many of my favourite bits properly brought 
out for the first time. On the other hand, I remem- 
bered how differently a certain person played the piano 
part. I thought Bulow's interpretation of the F major 
subject in the first movement lacked simplicity, breadth, 
and fervour. I always felt those crescendos and 
diminuendos miles ahead, whereas the orchestra, to a 
man, gave a complete impression of spontaneity. His 
technique was colourless, too ; he does not play the 
chain of octave-trills half as loudly or as well as you. 
I thought him best in the Adagio. On the whole, he 
certainly appealed to us yesterday; we thoroughly 
enjoyed it. His genuine, unreserved devotion to your 
music was so evident, and, alas ! so unusual a thing 
here, that we felt as if we were among friends again 
after living with strangers. For you know (though I 
can't resist repeating it) that your music is as indis- 
pensable to our existence as air, light, and heat. You 
can't think how glad we are not to have to give the 
dead masters all our affection and enthusiasm, and 
how glad that the one to whom we already owe so 
much still lives and labours, and is, we hope, neither 
inaccessible nor quite indifferent to us. Yesterday, 
when the horn first rang out in the last movement, it 
seemed as if you were sending us a glorious greeting 
from afar. You, poor thing, can never be a mere 
listener to music. You are really to be pitied. 

Bulow enjoyed himself greatly yesterday, one could 
see, but was much taken aback by your absence. We 
did not tell him before the concert that it was his own 
fault, for fear of exciting him, and afterwards had no 
opportunity We had just time to thank him, and saw 


him no more that evening, as he had visitors. So we 
drank your health instead with the Kirchners, the 
Wachs, the fat one and Ethel, in our little room, and 
you would have realized from some of the remarks 
that went flying about that your music takes deeper 
and deeper root in all our hearts. The Wachs are 
real devotees, too. The fat one — that is, my brother 
— sends word that it was only the fear of intruding, 
when you were so surrounded, that kept him from 
saying good-bye to you at the Tonkunstlerverein. In 
spite of his size, he is always making himself small 
figuratively, dear, modest fellow. But now good-bye. 
Heinz would like to embrace you if you will allow him. 
He was so happy yesterday. — Ever yours, 

E. H. 

The staccato passage which comes before the lovely 
B flat minor in the coda of the first movement* was 
amazingly effective, sharp and clean-cut as we never 

heard it here. The pizzicato Ji' J immediately after 

the second subject was capital, too.f The energetic 
passages were indeed wonderfully worked out all 
through, if I except the fabulous roaring-lion basses 
after the strmgendo in the introduction of the last move- 
ment. You forced them out so magnificently, while 
he did not exert half enough pressure. The stringcndo 

* In the C minor symphony. 

f This is a mistake. The particular passage (p. ii, bar 2 of the 
full score) has this figure — 

brought first by the violas, marked col arco, while the other strings 
give a pizzicato chord. 


itself was superb. I longed for our own oboist in the 
Adagio, for his sustained G sharp* is quite another 
thing, and he plays more artistically altogether. But 
the Meininger clarinettist is great !t 

104. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, March 18, 1882.] 

Just a word of thanks to you and the dear ' Miss.'J 
I shall try and revenge myself as well as I can on 
you both for your kind letters before long. — Kindest 
regards, j, Br. 

105. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, March 21, 1882.] 

Dear Friend, — May I make a small {mf)^ demand 
on your kindness ? Hartels have asked for my sub- 
scription for the twenty-seventh annual set of the Bach 
Atisgabe {i^yy),\\ before sending me cantatas 131 to 140. 
I have the cantatas 121 to 130, but not the thematic 
index or the last volume (iv. ?) of chamber-music (violin 
and violoncello). 

Are the two volumes in the twenty-seventh set (1877) ? 
I have no record of them in the bound volumes. The 
Art of Fugue and the Choral Vorspiele are there ; I hope 
there is nothing else missing. . . . 

Would you mind paying five thaler for the current 

* P. 29 of the full score. 

t Richard Miihlfeld, the famous clarinettist, for whom Brahms 
afterwards composed his various chamber pieces with clarinet. 

+ Miss Ethel Smyth. 

§ Brahms had a particular affection for mczzo-fortc effects. 

II The standard critical edition of Bach, published by Breitkopf 
and H artel. 


year, and if required another five for the last but one, 
and having the volumes forwarded to me immediately? 

Please don't be angry, and don't let your wife and 
the dear 'Miss' be angry at my answering their nice 
letters in such a way. 

But I am probably coming myself soon. I have to 
conduct my Requiem at Hamburg on Good Friday, and 
expect to look in on you on the way home. 

How about a little journey at Easter? I should like 
a few days at Weimar and Jena. If you would come, 
too, and prowl round with me a few days, it would be 
quite delightful, by Jove ! and much better than Hum- 
boldtstrasse, which could still be taken on the way. 
Send me just a line. — Yours, t Brahms. 

1 06. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Dresden, March 25, 1882. 

My very dear Friend, — The enclosed receipt will 
convey the sad assurance that you really owed for the 
twenty-seventh series. I probed as far as the company's 
ledger, and established the fact beyond a doubt. I 
suggested to the treasurer that they might send you 
the publications annually, to be paid through the post 
at your end without waiting for your member's sub- 
scription. He is quite willing, and is only waiting for 
your authorization. You might entrust me with that 
too; then I shall perhaps be the gainer by another nice 
little note like the last. 

We are here for a few days (until Tuesday) with our 
brother Ernst* We might even hear Reinthaler's 
Kdtchen\ if we went to the theatre, which is very 

* Ernst von Stockhauscn. 

t Kdtchen von Heilbronn, prize opera of the year (1881), by Karl 


doubtful ! We travelled in the same carriage with 
Reinthaler without knowing it, until he introduced 
himself at Riesa by turning to my wife and announcing 
with great firmness : * You are Frau von Herzogenberg ; 
I am Reinthaler. You got in at Leipzig, and mentioned 
the name Brahms in the course of conversation, which 
is quite enough for me.' So much notice did we attract ! 

As to the Easter prowl, neither could we imagine 
anything more delightful, though the how and where 
and whether would have to be discussed of course. 
For the present we shall count on your visit to Hum- 
boldtstrasse, all of us down to Fanny, Ponto, and our 
* Miss.' Liesel is just writing to Epstein, who proposed 
a visit to us at Easter last autumn in Vienna. As soon 
as we hear anything definite from him we will write 
again. Perhaps you could come to us before going to 
Hamburg in any case ? How's that? Or do you feel 
like playing duets with Epstein at our house? 

Kindest regards from us both and a request for 
a post-card, if possible before we leave (Kurfursten- 
strasse, 2'j'). — Always yours sincerely, 


107. Elisahet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig] Afril 6, 1882. 

Dear Friend, — It is very sad — Epstein is coming ! 
I don't mean, of course, the fact that he is coming, for 
I am very glad, but that it could not be a little later, so 
that we could have our nice little spring outing. Our 
lament is a three-part canon ! I enclose a miserable 
photograph of the head of Feuerbach's charming 
Madonna, just to show my good-will. I wanted to 
give you some idea of this beautiful picture which you 


never saw, but the stupid Dresdeners could produce 
nothing better. But I am very backward in thanking 
you for the happy twenty-four hours you gave us. 
How can I tell you what such an evening with your 
songs means to us!* You can't imagine what it is 
to sit, and dip, and sip at the fountain-head, indulging 
oneself to the full in unvarnished delight — or can you, 
I wonder ? 

Excuse this hurried, scrappy note, but I have a 
visitor in my room in the shape of a snuff-taking old 
aunt, a Holsteiner all over, who discourses so worthily 
between the pinches that it is impossible to write. 

I know someone who would be happier listening 
to-morrowf than you conducting, for it is all 'stuff' 
to you ! Think of me when you come to ewige 
Freude. . . ,% 

Epstein has not qiiite^ quite definitely said he is 
coming. If in the end he telegraphs * Not coming,' we 
may after all telegraph * Coming ' . . . but on the whole 
you may be glad to be at the end of your pilgrimages. § 

Heinz is at a charity board meeting, but instructed 
me to send every imaginable kind message. — With 
kindest regards, yours gratefully and sincerely, 

E. Herzogenberg. 

♦ Brahms had responded to the ' nice ' letters by sending a parcel 
of songs to form a supplement to those sent before, and now 
published as Op. 84-86. 

t At the performance of the Requiem in Hamburg. 

!t The close of the second part : * Ewige Freude wird iiber ihrcm 
Haupte sein.' 

§ In the original the writer rings the changes on the four different 
meanings of the expression am Ende, using it to express ' in the end,' 
* after all,' * on the whole,' and ' at the end,' respectively. — Tr. 



108. Brahms to Elisahet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April, 1882.] 

My dear Friend, — I hope you still have my song, 
Therese ?* I should be particularly pleased if you could 
honestly give your approval to the following version : 







Du milch-jun-ger Kna • be, wie schaust du mich an, 







al - le Rats-herr'n in der Stadt und al - le Wei - sen der Welt. 

One version is as old as the other, though not, 
perhaps, so simple to sing. But although this one 
has been more generally copied and sung, I cannot 
get used to it, and am puzzled to know what to do. 

Sing the song through again, both of you, and let 

the poor youth languish at the piano meanwhile ; then 

send me a line. — Yours most sincerely, 


109. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] Afril 26, 1882. 

My very dear Friend, — With the best will in the 
world, I cannot take to the old-new version, and 
Heinrich feels the same about it. I should feel quite 
sad if you insisted on it. The simpler form 

— ^ — ^ — — ^_. . 

I I 

* Op. 86, No. I. 


seems to me to go much better with the counterpoint 
on the piano than the other jagged version, and to be 
much more in keeping with the song, where clear 
diction matters far more than voice display. Just try 
singing to yourself, in the light manner that suits the 
piece, that jump to the octave below ! Is it not clumsy 
compared with the simple repetition of the three 
notes ? 

I do beg you won't meddle with the dear little song 
any more, but rest satisfied with the simpler version. 

When can we have another look at all the beloved 
songs ? We are probably going to Frankfurt in May 
to dear Frau Schumann (I have begged off Jena!),* and 
it would be glorious if we could try your new ones 
with Stockhausen.t I am always thinking of the 
F major,! and preferably in connection with Stock- 
hausen, who is, after all, the only one to sing it. This 
part — vaguely as it is outlined in my memory — 

i ^ irjry^ ^^^^EiE ^^^^ etc. 

tugs at my very heart-strings. 

. . . But I must stop. Remember us to the dear 

kind professor,§ whose visit we enjoyed so much. 

What a splendid creature he is! You must tell him he 

made several conquests here. Good-bye, dear friend 

and Doktor. Where shall you go this summer? — 

Ever your devoted friends, 

Elisabet and H. H. 

* She was to have gone there for another course of treatment for 
her heart trouble (c/. Letter 87). 

t JuHus Stockhausen had settled at Frankfurt to teach singing 
in 1878. 

X Fcldcmsamkeit, Op. 86, No. 2. § Epstein. 


1 10. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[IscHL, May 15, 1882.] 

Here it is, then, with my kindest regards,* but I 
must really see the name printed on a title-page, or 
how am I to know it ? 

I am at Ischl, and the weather is horrible — appalling ! 
It rains (or snows) incessantly : schwarz ist das Kraut 
und der Himmel niir erst!\ There is a stove in this 
room (lighted, too!) and I must have one put in the 

And this is Ischl — on the 15th of May ! 

All is well with the 'milk-white youth 'J — that is, 
according to your wishes. I could let you have the 
songs now, but you are not going to Frankfurt after all, 
but to Halle. And where next ? not to Berchtesgaden, 
of course ? That would be too near to me, eh ? What 
about Bayreuth ? I am meditating it, though I am 
convinced that we shall have Parsifal^\ at any rate, in 
various places next winter. 

* The letter accompanied an autograph promised to Miss Ethel 
Smyth. Frau Herzogenberg's letter containing the request is 

t Quotation from the song Uher die Heide, Op. 86, No. 4, in which 
the last words actually read : und der Himmel so leer. 

% Cf. Letter 109, 1 10, the song quoted. 

§ Wagner's Parsifal received its first performance at Bayreuth in 
July, 1882. The work was to be Bayreuth's monopoly, as is well 
known. Brahms often regretted never having been there. In the 
summer of 1882 he writes to Biilow : * The fact that I cannot 
come to a decision about Bayreuth probably means that I am 
unable to produce that " yes." I need hardly say that I go in dread 
of the Wagnerians, who would spoil my pleasure in the best of 
Wagners. I don't know yet what I shall do. I may take advan- 
tage of my beard, which still allows me to trot about so nice and 


51 Salzburgerstrasse.* Write that down now on 
a few envelopes, and send one occasionally to yours 
very sincerely, j, Brahms. 

III. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] May 18, 1882. 

My very dear Friend, — Many thanks for your kind 
promptitude. I, the petitioner, and Ethel Smyth, the 
favoured one, are both greatly touched by your kind- 
ness. But where did you gain this fabulous experience 
in writing letters of introduction ? Such elegance and 
finish — you might be a Frenchman! ... a far cry 
from your usual self f 

But please don't get it into your head that I am going 
to Halle (by which you again mean Jena). I told you 
I was let off, and that we were going to Frankfurt. 
After that we have one duty after another to pay off— 
a visit to Heinrich's family in Bohemia, and another to 
the poor invalid W. at Graz. Then we may relax for 
a brief space in some little corner of the mountains, 
probably in Carinthia or the Tyrol as being the nearest. 
If you still had your abode at Portschach, we should of 
course make you a visitation ; but Ischl ! — really pro- 
vidence seems bent on upsetting our nice summer 

Until Whitsuntide any communication here will find 
us. I hope you were not teasing me about the songs? 

* Brahms's summer home at Ischl in 1880 and 1882, and from 
1889 to 1896 {cf. Victor von Miller's Brahmsbilderbuch, pp. 98, loi. 

t As Brahms had said in his letter that he must see the name 
Ethel Smyth printed on a title-page before he could be supposed to 
remember it, Frau von Hcrzogenberg jestingly assumed that he 
intended an indirect recommendation of the coming composer to 


If you were, I only hope your ' blackened vegetation ' 
and ' blacker skies ' will persist. 

Ethel sends kind remembrances. Do you know she 
is going to begin and work on her own next winter, in 
Florence, where you may perhaps meet. She imagines 
she can finish all her fugues on the dominant there un- 
rebuked. I am very curious to know how she will get 
on. One good thing is that she will not hear too much 

But good-bye, and let something penetrate to us 
from your winter-quarters, which are doubtless very 
cosy, and will be productive of many beautiful things. 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

112. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Wernsdorf bei Kaaden,* 

July 13, 1882. 

My very dear Friend, — You know from experience 
that, try as one will, it is sometimes impossible 
to get any letters written. ... It was so nice and 
comfortable at Frankfurt in Frau Schumann's grand 
new house. We much enjoyed our week there. It 
was too charming to see her in her professional 
capacity, as, with flushed cheeks, she brought forward 
her best pupils to play to us — severe and lenient, 
teacher and mother by turns, as she listened. I could 
not help thinking to myself: 'How nice to be born 
again and become her pupil !' 

I shall never forget an evening at Stockhausen's, 
when he sang Dichterliebe\ to Frau Schumann's accom- 
paniment. It was all so fresh and spontaneous. I 

* A town ill North- Western Bohemia, 
t Schumann's song-cycle. 



had never heard him do that particular cycle, and was 
quite carried away at times by his profound sincerity 
and vigour. . . . There was a princess, about whom 
I had grave qualms ; but I believe I am easily pre- 
judiced by a powdered nose in conjunction with a 
pince-nez. When she went up quite close to Frau 
Schumann in a confidential way, I thought of Eglantine 
and Euryanthe, and really suffered tortures ; while to 
see Euryanthe rub her hands, and ward off the other in 
her touching manner, was as good as a theatre. 

Of course we called on the Dessoffs,* and I can only 
say : How can a Saxon become such a northerner ? 
What an age it takes, invariably, for any two people 
to come out of their shells ! They meet as Kapellmeister 
and Mr. So-and-so, or as anything their particular 
place in the world causes them to represent, and the 
commonplaces and deliberately impersonal remarks 
that pass between them are heart-breaking. Only 
children are genuine. I was enchanted with your 
little godchild Johannes,t who, when I beckoned him 
to sit beside me on the sofa, said firmly but prettily : 
' No, I am not tired.' 

But you must be by now, and I will say good-bye. 
Perhaps you will favour us with a few lines at Bestwie, 
Schloss Bestwie, Post Bestwie, Bohemia, where we 
shall be the coming week. We hope to be at Graz on 
July the ist, Korblergasse 32. 

Why have your songs not come ? Do please send 
them as soon as possible. — Kindest regards from your 
faithful Herzogenbergs. 

■* Otto Dessoff (1835- 1 892), formerly conductor of the Vienna 
Philharmonic, was appointed first conductor of the Stadttheater at 
Frankfurt in 1881. 

t Dessoff's little boy. 

SONGS 163 

113. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Graz, Korblergasse 32, 

July 24, 1832. 

My very dear Eighty-Sixth !* — It is not often that 
I have three books of new Brahms songs in the house 
for five days without sitting down to thank the kind 
donor. I value the collection all the more for the fact 
that it gives me a chance of meeting all my old friends 
again. For I am just like the mother of * Naz ' in the 
dear Lower-Austrian poem, who looks forward to 
heaven because she will meet all the people who have 
gone before. ' They will all know us at first sight, and 
Naz will be the most beautiful of them all.' Well, I 
know all these at sight, and know them thoroughly; 
for I have refreshed my knowledge of those I knew 
superficially, while the half-understood ones now speak 
with greater conviction, as for instance the Nachtwand- 
lerlied^\ which has only just dawned on me. I am 
particularly fond of the ending, ' Wie vom Licht des 
Vollmonds tnmken^ with its beautiful creeping accom- 
paniment on the G, and the crescendo in the voice ; then 
the rise in the music at * Weh den Lippen^ die ihn riefen^ 
and the way it sinks back into the | figure of the first 
part, which, in its dissatisfaction, seems made for this 
haunting song. The richness of it all, in combination 
with its perfect simplicity, is what delights me. 

But I am insatiable in my affection for Feldeht- 
samkeit.X How your soul must have rejoiced when 
that first line came to you, which captivates us so 
promptly and charms our ear by its perfect pitch, 
bathing us in its warm, soft flow ! How you must 

* The last of the three books of songs is numbered Op. 86. 
t Nachtwandlery Op. 86, No. 3. % Op. 86, No. 2. 

11 — 2 


have revelled in "the lovely modulation into D flat 
major, too, at ' tiefe Trdumen ' — for I hope you do enjoy 
these little master-touches — and in the return to 
C major, which is achieved so quickly, and yet so 
gently, with time even for a lingering caress ! I am 
fonder of Todessehnen than ever, but I am less willing 
to submerge myself in Versunken* on account of the 
forked lightning character of the voice part. The 
eighty-fifth book brings all the good old times back 
again, and I think of the secret rummaging in drawers 
at Portschach (what a pity you are no longer there ! 
we could have come over so easily from here) as I 
look on the old songs in their new garb. Waldein- 
samkeit] is another inspiration such as you don't have 
every day — I question whether it is not the finest in 
all three books — the sort that makes one unconsciously 
hold one's breath to listen ; a glorious thing, full of 
lofty emotion, and yet so human in its appeal, born as 
it is of deep personal experience. The man who can 
listen to it dry-eyed is surely past saving ! The little 
ones for one or two voices, ad libitum, are the 
winningest little rogues.J How innocent they are ! 
It is like looking into the faces of children — well- 
brought-up children, such as, say, Schubert's or 
Beethoven's might be. I can hardly imagine anything 
prettier or daintier than the lines of the mother's 
melody in Sommerabend,^ and the repetition of that 
one line of the words. How ingeniously that part 
finishes, too ! I delight in every little stroke, as if 
it were a fine old engraving — by Dietrich, || say, in 
whose work art and strong natural emotion are as 

* Op. 86, No. 5. t Op. 85, No. 6. 

X Romanzcn und Lieder, Op. 84. § Op. 84, No. i. 
II C. W. Dietrich, painter and etcher of the eighteenth century. 

SONGS 165 

indistinguishably blended. Perhaps the Beerenlied^ is 
even more lovable, in the gay insouciance of its modu- 
lation to E flat minor (that chameleon-like key with 
its D|, so perplexing at the first reading !), and the 
calm v^ay in which it sidles into B major. I also take 
some pleasure in the delicate quaver accompaniment 
at the first mention of the ' beloved,' which is so 
charmingly extended, the second time, to suit the 
*ripe red kisses,' and the sudden and very convincing 
return to luminous E flat major. Ah yes, the privi- 
leged master-hand can carry us at full speed, as 
unconscious of our actual movements as a beautiful 
deer in flight ; whereas the less supple runner makes 
us pant and puff in a piteous way. Spannung] I find 
strangely touching. * Dtt sollst fnir Antwort geben, mein 
EngelJ is so urgent, so sweetly persuasive. The words 
are so beautiful there, and the A major at the close — 
and the fond union of the voices — is so exactly after 
my own heart; indeed, it goes straight to my heart. 
And so as usual I may close by thanking you sincerely, 
dear Friend, for is it not the things which appeal to the 
heart that make life worth living ? 

I wonder if you will favour me with a few lines, 
averse as you seem to writing this summer ! I should 
so like to have some idea what you are doing, and 
whether you are thoroughly enjoying your two 
stoves. What a succession of lovely days ! We are 
quite languid from this perpetual 22 degrees in the 
shade. I can only exist by bravely ignoring the heat, 
in which I scribble my six hours a day at Italian. 1 
have at last followed your wise example,! and am 

* In den Beeren, Op. 84, No. 2. f Op. 84, No. 5. 

% Brahms was learning Italian to arm himself for further travels in 


labouring at this cruelly beautiful language, which 
makes one long to be at the summit while still fum- 
bling at the foot of the ladder. However, I already 
know a few Tuscan proverbs, one of which I will 
quote, because it will both bring grist to your wicked 
mill and serve to excuse me for sending nothing better 
than a gossiping epistle by way of thanks for your 
songs : Le parole sono feminine e ifatti sono maschi!^ 

Now I will say good-bye — with just one request. 
When you write, please tell me about poor Faber.f 
I saw him at the end of July in Vienna, and was hor- 
rified ; he looked so much worse than I expected. I 
should like to know your opinion of him and Billroth's 
report, for doctors hardly ever tell us women the 

Poor dear fellow! It went to my heart to see him 
such a wreck. I only hope he does not see the secret 
dread with which we examine him. No news from 
St. Moritz, unfortunately.^ 

And now farewell. We are here until August the 
first, after which we shall potter about in the Tyrol 
and wind our way gradually to Venice, where I hope 
the Lido may be merciful. My mother writes, by the 
way, that it is not at all hot there. Heinz sends mes- 
sages and messages, and is sending the psalm § in 
print. We have both enjoyed it so much. — As ever, 

your grateful and devoted 

E. Herzogenberg. 

* From Giuseppe Giusti's Raccolta di proverhi Toscani, p. 126 
(* Words are [in Italian] of the feminine, deeds of the masculine 
gender '), or, more accurately, Le parole son femmine e i fatti son 
maschi (' Words are women, deeds are men '). 

f Arthur Faber, their mutual friend, was dangerously ill. 

X From Frau Schumann. 

§ Psalm cxvi. for mixed chorus a capella, Op. 34. 


1 14. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[IscHL, July 27, 1882.] 
I am sending you a little ditty* which will be a more 
satisfactory immediate expression of thanks than a 
letter. It rather hopes to earn another letter! You 
will be sure to send it back when you leave, on the 

Meanwhile kindest regards and thanks. More next 
time. — Yours, j gj^^ 

115. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Innichen, Gasthof zur Sonne, 
August 6, 1882. 

My very dear Friend, — I am at last able to thank 
you properly both for the loan of the quintet and for 
the dear, lovely thing itself, which has already given 
me such pleasure, and will give me still more this 
winter if we hear it at Leipzig. I feel sure we shall, 
for since Father Rontgenf made such a sensation with 
the G major sextet at the Kammermusik that time, 
there is no holding him. True, the poor fellow will 
be in very low spirits after his trials this summer (his 
wife has been ill seven weeks with acute muscular 
rheumatism, and is only allowed up an hour at a time, 
smothered in cotton-wool); but I expect I shall be 
able to rouse him by playing him the first movement 
in October (what a blessing I got an accurate idea 
of it !), and the first largo in the second movement, 
which is one of the most overwhelming things I know. 
He may well envy the favoured 'cello and viola there, 

* The quintet in F, Op. 88 (MS.). 

t Engelbert Rontgen, leader of the Gewandhaus orchestra and of 
the quartet. 

1 68 


but his own turn comes in the A major movement, par- 
ticularly in the variation. How amazingly clever these 
trios are — lively and gay, yet full of meaning ! This 
part, too : 

:w—t f —g — tzzz 




|tz=F- ^_|i_ |_^ 

which dies away so charmingly ! 

But the short Adagio remains my first favourite. 
It is so lovely that you are almost angry at being torn 
away from it by the Allegretto' just as you had lost 
yourself in the solemnity of C sharp minor, and just 
after that incomparable cadence : 

q. AD, G-q. 

3 5#! 

And how beautiful this is ! — 


I I I 

* The passage reads as follows in the score, p. 22, bar 6 : 



_^4 saJ- J B^i" 




particularly where the second violin takes up the 
dying plaint of the 'cello : 

What delighted me so particularly in the first move- 
ment was its transparency. How grateful one is for 
this lucidity of form, this unaffected loveliness, which 
you treat strictly according to rule, and yet as if you 
had yourself invented this particular form to suit it ! 
It is refreshing to see the framework exposed in such 
bald, prosaic fashion. The bridge-passage, especially 
the motif you turn to such good account in the 

t A :?- H^- t 


^ -0- A 

r r f t 

is so obviously leading up to something, and the 
cleverly deferred cadence on the dominant 



with the engaging false relation (F — F sharp) between 
the second fiddle and viola in the second barf gives 
unmistakable warning of the new idea that is coming. 

♦ Neither this passage nor the previous one is accurately quoted 
{cf. p. 20 of the score, last four bars). 

t See p. II of score. All the musical quotations scattered about 
the letters are from memory, the manuscript having been returned 
before these notes were made. 



And how beautifully it does come, on the viola ! (Won't 
Julius Rontgen have a good time !) I love the change 
to F sharp minor, with the passionate rise to G sharp 
and A on the viola.* Then the place where the fiddle 
takes up the theme, and F sharp minor blossoms into 
A major, while the second fiddle chimes in a third 
below, is simply bewitching; nor is that luminous 
touch of D major to be despised ! 




The development, which promises to be almost too 
severe, has such charming surprises in the two inter- 
rupted cadences on E,t 



f tJ" ^' 





and afterwards on G ; and the triplets, which come 
billing and cooing close on their heels, work up so 
beautifully the second time to the pedal-note C on 
their wa}'' home to the almost-forgotten F major.J The 
old gay rhythm, 

which breaks in upon the peaceful return of the principal 
subject, is soon subdued to form a fitting accompani- 
ment to the sober modulation to D flat.§ (You seem 
particularly strong on modulations into D flat, Herr 

* P. 6 of score. f P. 9, bar 3. 

J P. II, bar 6. § P. 12, bar 3. 



Brahms !) Then, after whirling through the keys to 
the dominant on E flat,* it swoops down to the minor 
ninth on C,t which ushers in the exciting final stage 
of the working-out with its decisive and powerful 
close. (The final cadence — B flat minor, G flat major, 
C majorj — is magnificent!) There is just one note — 
C flat — which puzzled me sadly in this bar : 





It seems to clash so painfully with the F, which 
marks the passage as distinctively major. Please do 
not be horrified at this audacious airing of my opinions. 
You did ask me to write, you know, and the only way 
is to do it as if — well, as if I were writing to anyone 
but you, who must be unspeakably bored by a 
description of what you know better than anyone. 
But I shall not let you off the coda in the first move- 
ment, so please submit to being told how bewitching 
it is. It positively lulled me to sleep on the journey 
from Graz with its charming swing. 










But I have one great objection to raise (Heinrich and 

* P. 12, bar 7. t P. 12, bar 10. % P. 13, bar 10. 

§ P. 12, bar 7. II P. 19, bars 5 and 6. 


1 breathed it simultaneously) : the two last * time's up !' 
tempo primo bars are very disturbing after that splen- 
did dying elegy. It really is as if your pen, not you, 
were responsible, as if you had done the conventional 
thing without troubling yourself further. Why can- 
not the movement close in a subdued key ? Why 
this conventional * rouser ' to cut short a blissful 
dream ? * Weh den Lippen^ die ihn riefen /'* say I. 

But take heart. Not a word of the last movement, 
as I hardly know it at all. I could not master all 
three in those few days (the greater part of the time 
was devoted to my poor relatives and my neglected 
Italian studies), so I had to make a selection. And 
just this last movement wants hearing, I should say, 
before one can take it all in. Also it is less lyrical in 
character, and we women folk, if given the choice of 
three movements, are sure to seize the lyrical ones. 
Also it is the most difficult to play, and I must needs 
choose that particular time to fall on my left thumb 
with my full weight, and sprain the wretch badly. 
Heinz derived some amusement from discovering a 
certain similarity of structure and treatment between 
this movement and the last of his trio in F. He was so 
proud and pleased, for not only in the first subject, 


but in the second, and in the way they blend, are there 
traces of it.f He is to-day doing his first climb this 
year, dear fellow. He got up at five, quite radiant, as 

* Quotation from the Nachwandler, Op. 86. 

t The resemblance was purely accidental, but Brahms was, as 
a matter of fact, fond of appropriating other people's themes, partly 
as a challenge to the critics, whose comments on their discoveries 
always amused him. 


my sleepy eyes could see, and left me in solitude with 
my correspondence and a sore throat which demands 
my attention every now and then. The harsh wind, 
combined with the dust I swallowed yesterday, may 
have given it me. My song is, not Das Grab ist meine 
Freiide* but ' permanganate of potash is my delight.' 
It is very nice here. The air tastes good, and is 
scented with wild-thyme — I never sniffed anything 
so sweet — and the Dolomites light up gorgeously, 
while the rest and quiet are most refreshing. Our 
little inn, too, is excellent. The fare is good — I might 
almost say delicate — and everything is so cheap, one 
forgets to pay ! I heard from Bertha Faber to-day. 
They break up on the 12th, and expect to be at Letto- 
witz on the 2oth.t I do hope it is safe for him to go 
there ; he will not be put off. Your message will find 
me here until the 12th. I am determined not to lose it, 
for you promised ! You really must not mind my 
saucy chatter. You will at least glean that a beautiful 
thing like your quintet is not wasted on me when you 
send it. I did wrap up the manuscript on the 2nd, but 
there was none to take it into town (Korblergasse is 
country), so it wouldn't reach you until the 4th. If 
you sent me things oftener, I might learn to read your 
manuscript as fluently as a printed page. 
A fond farewell, and thank you once more. — Yours, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

1 16. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[IscHL, August 8, 1882.] 
My dear Friend, — It is really unfortunate that I am 
obliged to write at once, as it really cannot be done. 

* Cf. Letter 65.— Tr. 

t The estate of the Faber family. 


I should have liked to thank you at leisure for your 
kind letters. As it is, I will only assure you that it is 
extremely pleasant and necessary to hear a genuine 
word of approval about a new piece. My best thanks 
are therefore due to you, and to your Heinz for looking 
through the third part. So it seems I copy him not 
only consciously, but unconsciously.* But shall I never 
shake Qff the theologian?! Here are all these new 
things going — and what comes my way? This Psalm, 
of course ! I may add that I enjoyed it thoroughly, 
and heard in imagination a chorus singing it and re- 
joicing in its flow of melody. But — it always costs me 
a pang to take up a psalm so 'unheathenish.' I have 
just finished one which is actually heathenish enough 
to please me and to have made my music better than 
usual, I hope. 

* » * ♦ « 

But as this was not to be a letter, I have written 

enough. Turn over, and you will have the pleasure 

of seeing the very latest bridegroom.| — Yours most 


J. Br. 

I am not at all clear about Innichen (Innigen?). 
Does it lie at the entrance to the Ampezzo Valley, the 
village on the other side of the line ? 

* Brahms alludes to the liberty he had taken in O schone Nacht 
{cf. Letters 15 and 19). 

t Brahms really prided himself on his Biblical knowledge, in 
which he was a match for any theologian. He had always taken 
pleasure in hunting up ' godless ' texts in the Bible. Nothing made 
him angrier than to be taken for an orthodox Church composer on 
account of his sacred compositions. His Vier ernste Gesdnge (see 
Letters 275 and 277) are not the only protests he made. 

% The note-paper bore a vignette of Biilow, who had been married 
to Marie Schanzer in July. 


1 1 7. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

Dear Lady, — Will you kindly make my excuses to 
' Papa ' Rontgen ? I have only one copy of the score 
and parts,* and cannot spare them just now. My 
copyist is busy, too, or I would have them written 
out. In fact, it can't be done, much as I should like to 
think I had earned a smile from 'Mama'! 

Having made the first plunge, I may now begin to 
swim ! I found an alarming pile of letters here, and 
can write variations on the theme : ' I don't like giving 

concerts.' From Moscow and St. Petersburg to , 

they will all receive the same answer. 

A parting smile for this friendly sheet ; then I turn 
to the next. 

I suppose Kirchner is still there, and will be ? — Very 

kindest regards from 


118. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Frankfurt a/M., December 29, 1882.] 

Dear Friend, — I am just off to the concert. To- 
morrow I go straight to Vienna, where I am playing 
on the 4th, and I leave Amsterdam on the 13th ! So I 
can only sigh a refusal to your engagement. I feel 
quite melancholy when I think of the fat fee ! How- 
ever, it's impossible this time. — Kindest regards. 



* Of the Quintet in F. 


1 19. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, A'pril 15, 1883.] 

You will now be able to play the concerto on two 
pianos.* ... I hope you won't mind my inflicting two 
copies on you to that end ! 

Many thanks for your very kind messages. The 
professorf did actually come ! — Sincerely yours, 


120. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] May 5, 1883. 

My dear Friend, — In these new-German Musik- 
verein days,t it was comforting and refreshing to think 
of you and your coming birthday, and remind ourselves 
that we belong rather more to you than to the Musik- 
verein^ stamped though we are with Riedel's order 
(V.M.), initials which are held to add distinction to even 
Wagner's list of honours. You may be glad to have 
escaped all that we have been through since the 3rd, 
from Draseke's Dies Irce by way of M. Vogel's and 
H. Zopfs songs, Russian symphonies and quartets§ to 
the introduction and the transformation business from 
Parsifal. Oh, I know there is occasional evidence 
of real talent and vigour (as in the Borodine symphony), 

* The Concerto in B flat, in Brahms's own arrangement for two 
pianos, was published by Simrock at the end of the year 1882. 

•}• Probably Professor Engelmann from Utrecht. 

X A Tonkiinstlerversammlung of the Allgemeinen deuischen Musik- 
verein was held at Leipzig from May 3 to May 6. Karl Riedel, one 
of the founders, had been president of the Verein since Brendel's 
death in 1868. 

§ A string quartet by Rimsky- Korsakoff, and Borodine's Symphony 
in E flat. 


but side by side with such atrocities, such amateurish- 
ness, that it seems as if the new German Musikverein 
had taken pattern by Busch's Httle remark at the 
end of his St. Antony : 

* Lots of great sheep are admitted, and so 
To one nice little pig they can hardly say no 1' 

One can't help getting angry, and feeling it a dubious 
pleasure to hear your Parzenlied^ at such a concert. 
Equal rights for all is an unfortunate principle applied 
to art, for art is and always will be aristocratic. As we 
listend to yoxsx Par zenlied in the rehearsal at the Crystal 
Palace to-day, we felt much as if a Spanish grandee had 
strayed into a tavern. 

Wiillner sat next to us, and was some consolation, for, 
naturally, we could not discuss your Parzen with the 
Meister.^ And so there were three noses glued to the 
dear score, and three hearts thanking you, each in his 
own way, but in good faith. 

NikischJ took a lot of trouble, and did all that anyone 
could do at Leipzig, where the ladies of the chorus are 
not much concerned as to whether they sing flat 
or sharp, although they can look languishing, and sing 
from memory with their arms folded. Certain passages 
always sound out of tune, and just that heavenly 
passage, * And wait in vain,' did certainly wait in vain 
for purity of intonation. But in spite of it, the actual 
sound effect, which was the one thing we could not 
imagine beforehand, gave it all the fascination of an 
absolutely unknown work. Some places, which we had 
had hard work to understand and like, from reading the 

* Song of the Fates for chorus and orchestra, Op. 89. 
f Franz Liszt, who had been specially invited to the Festival. 
X Arthur Nikisch (b. 1855), the famous conductor, at that time 
first conductor of the Leipzig Opera. 



score — for instance, the violent changes at So sturzen 
die Gdste geschmdht und geschdndet {\ was guilty of much 
heresy over that C minor and A minor, and the cruel 
place farther on at the v^ord tiefen !) — seemed quite 
powerful and convincing when we actually heard them, 
and we gave in to the beautiful inevitable with a good 

But you are sure to have heard plenty about it, not 
to speak of your own consciousness of its value, and 
I will not dissect our enjoyment for your benefit, 
but merely thank you for the gift, and tell you how we 
felt in that pure air, that lofty region, after the very 
mixed odours of the new-German Musikverein. 

We are at last sending the belated copy of Chodo- 
wiecki,* which I ferreted out after much trouble, the 
edition being completely sold out, as I told you. The 
little volume should have been your Christmas present, 
but you must please accept it as a small birthday 
remembrance now. Heinz sends greetings from the 
depths of his good, honest Middle -High -German 
heart. He has had quite enough of the new-Germans, 
and said the other day, after hearing the violin con- 
certo (very sympathetically played by Brodsk}^) :t 
* His old brown overcoat is worth three hundred of 
that other crowd T We are very tired, and long for 
Waldeinsamkeit and the B major mood {Ich sass zu 
deinen Fussen)^% which the nightingales in the Rosen- 
thal fail to conjure up. 

* Probably Chodowiecki's Travels, Berlin to Danzig, in 1873, a 
facsimile reproduction, 

f Dr. Adolf Brodsky, violinist, at that time Professor at Leipzig 
Conservatorium, now Principal of the Royal College of Music, 

t Op. 85, No. 6. 

§ A wooded park just outside the town. — Tr. 


Good-bye. Bestow a little affection on us, and I 
should not mind having another sheet of music-paper 
covered with scribble, with eight pages of Strauss 
waltzes by way of wrapper ! * 

D'Albertf is in hospital with measles. That is what 
comes of 

* It is all the same to us — 
For what does it matter to us ? 
It matters nothing to us !' § 

But all my feathers are stroked the wrong way this 
morning, and this festival is not favourable to letter- 
writing, so make a few excuses for 

E. Herzogenberg. 

121. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, May 9, 1883.] 

Many thanks for everything — except for the beautiful 
book, which you must allow me to consider as a loan. 
I propose to enjoy it thoroughly, and return it as your 
property when I come myself 

If I were not off to Cologne || in a couple of hours, 
I would write — and thank you — at greater length, and 
that not by crossing this card, but by taking another ! — 
Yours, J B^ 

* Brahms's way of sending an autograph. 

f Eugen d' Albert (b. 1864), famous pianist and composer. 

X The opening of Liszt's Concerto in E flat, which D'Albert 
played on the second day of the Festival. 

§ A Viennese street-song. 

II Brahms played his B flat concerto and conducted his second 
symphony there at the Sixtieth Lower Rhine Festival (May 11-15). 

12 — 2 


122. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Wiesbaden, May 20, 1883.] 

I have lighted on incredibly nice quarters at Wies- 
baden, Geisbergstrasse 19.* It is really worth while, 
and in every way desirable, that you should come and 
inspect them. You will be filled with envy, but come 
all the same. 

When are you taking your holiday, and where ? — 

Kindest regards from yours, 


123. Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig, October i, 1883.] 

My dear Friend, — I have just addressed a letter of 
Limburger's to you, as well as I could, and cannot 
suppress the desire it has given me to write myself, 
especially as I know what is oh the cards. Do please 
do it — come to Leipzig with your symphony. Lim- 
burger has probably sent you the programmes for 
this winter. You can choose any date that suits you. 
It would be nice, of course, if you conducted the 
Parzenliedy which is due on December the 6th, at the 
same time. We heard it at the festival in the spring 
in such remarkably slow tempo ; very convenient for 
making its acquaintance, but hardly as it should be ! 

Or, if you would rather avoid Raffs Tageszeiten^] 
which is to be sung immediately after yours, you 
might come to us from Berlin, a geographical com- 
bination not to be despised in view of the exciting 

* Brahms finished his third symphony here in the course of the 

•j- Joachim Raff (1822-1882), composer. The Tageszeiten (Op. 209) 
is a cantata in four movements for chorus, piano, and orchestra. 


season before us. Anyway, don't leave us poor 
hungry wretches here out of the reckoning, or say : 
Du siehst, niein Sohn, die Zeit wird hier zum Raiini* 
which must mean something very bad, as I no more 
understand it than I do the witch's multiphcation 

If you do come, our spare room is at your disposal, 
not only here at Leipzig, as a matter of course, but 
also in the year '85 in our own little house at Berchtes- 
gaden, parish of Konigssee, land-register No. no. 

I can't believe — until I hear it from your own lips — 
that your enthusiasm for the Niederwald monument 
is leading you to settle in Wiesbaden for good,t in 
spite of the fact that you are not the composer of 
Die Wacht am Rhein. Is the great Croatian monarchy 
too much for you, with its leanings to Dvorak rather 
than to yourself, or — your ambition makes me giddy ! — 
do you aspire to the directorship of the Wiesbaden 
Court Orchestra ? Please enlighten us. People here 
look upon us as a sort of Brahms-Wolff, J and we 
must be primed to answer their many inquiries 
promptly, or they will begin to think us pretenders — 
which we should not like ! 

So please send one of your model letters to Limburger 
to say you accept, and one of your short friendly notes 
to us to say you are coming and like the idea. — Your 


* Quotation from Parsifal {Zum Raum wird hier die Zeit). 

f Brahms's opponents had diligently spread the rumour of his 
leaving Vienna, which had arisen from a casual remark of his to the 
effect that it was becoming practically impossible for a German to 
live in Vienna. Count Taaffe's Czech policy was abhorrent to him. 

X Hermann Wolff (1845-1902), the first concert agent, known as 
' Concert Wolff.' 


By the way, why have you written nothing for 
Luther? You have only yourself to blame now if 
you should have to listen to the Meinardus* oratorio. 
Meinardus acted prudently, and finished it in good 
time, thirty years ago, while his colleague Beckmesser 
did the printing and advertising in three weeks. 
Bach's feste Burg\ is also to be murdered in various 
places. I had to employ a troop of copyists to meet 
all the commissions I received. But I would rather 
have that; for a noble joint, badly cooked, is not half 
so unwholesome as very stale or very new rolls. 

124. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Wiesbaden, October 3, 1883.] 
Do you mind telling Herr Limburger that I have 
just received both your letters, but am off to Vienna 
in two hours, and shall not be able to collect my 
calendar and my thoughts until I get there ? Thanks 
for your kind letter, and good luck to your house 
(or castle) building enterprise and the happier time to 
follow. And may the happy time last long enough to 
bring illumination as to that profound (?) saying !t — 
Kindest regards to you and a few others, from yours, 


125. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, November 24, 1883. 
Dear, dear Friend, — We should so like your cor- 
roboration of the good news that you are coming in 

* Ludwig Meinardus (1827 - 1896), writer and composer. His 
oratorio Luther at Worms had a considerable vogue on the occasion 
of Luther's Fourth Centenary, celebrated throughout Protestant 
Germany on November 10, 1883. 

t Bach's Reformation cantata. 

X The Wagner quotation in Letter 123. 


February with the new symphony. You know who 
the chief rejoicers will be, so please send us a line to 
set our doubts at rest. 

How about the possibility of studying the score a 
little beforehand ? I should enjoy it ten times as 
much, being unfortunately as slow as I am a fond 
listener. As Wullner and Joachim are doing the 
symphony, one after the other,* I venture to think 
that an ordinary mortal might be able to lay hands on 
the score, even without the design of conducting it. 
But you would first have to allow it, then to put in 
a good word for me, with yourself or with someone 
else. Do be very nice and try to secure me this 
immense pleasure. I put it urgently at the risk of 
your thinking me too bold, for I always think modesty 
an unpractical thing in itself, and everyone is justified 
in expressing a vigorous wish occasionally. Besides, 
I feel I need some compensation for the long silence 
to which I was condemned last summer. 

I hope you will bring a few songs or other trifles in 
your old brown overcoat pocket. That would be too 
delightful. I am longing for some new songs, because 
I like the old ones so very much, that is, more and 
more, and feel more courageous than usual about 
singing — which is so different from just reading — 
them. I made a feeble attempt at the Regenlied 
yesterday, but had to give it up, for it reduced me to 

We get a terrific amount of music here. If we went 
to hear everything, we should soon be in our graves, 
but we are very diplomatic. We had to go to the last 
Joachim quartet concert, though. They really play 

* In Berlin. Joachim conducted it on January 4, 1884, while 
Brahms conducted it himself at Wiillner's concert shortly after,' 


like Bellini cherubs, their tone is so deliciously pure. 
I only wish you could hear your A minor* played as 
we heard it the other day. You don't get that in 
Vienna ! It sometimes seems impossible to imagine 
you among all those sugary people until I remind 
myself how little you care about hearing yourself at 
all. We could really do with a little more froth and 
flavour in our orchestra here ; it is so often too sober 
and reserved for anything. Yet your C minorf was 
amazingly good, and will go splendidly in a year or 
two, for the Leipzigers are even slower than I am. 
The Scherzo — I mean the A flat movement — and the 
finale were quite beautifully played the other day. 
You could feel they were putting their heart into it, 
not merely playing what was set before them. We 
were delighted with your Dutchmen,t who happened 
to be there. They were so rational in their opinions 
that we found them quite refreshing, and were soon 
on good terms. We have had Grieg here for some 
time. What a charming, sensitive nature he has! 
He has determination of character, too, which is so 
rare that one can condone this sort of thing 

more easily than in some others. . . . 

* Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2. f Symphony No. i. 

X Sillcm and Koopmann by name, friends of Brahms from 
Amsterdam, who were at Leipzig on a visit. 
§ From the 'cello sonata, Op. 36. 


But I must stop. Once more I beg you will not 
throw the first part of my letter into the waste-paper 
basket — I mean the gigantic inside one which we all 
carry for the things we want to forget. It means 
so much to me — and we ought all to help each 
other ! 

Let us hear something of you to make sure you still 

care about us a little. — With kindest regards, your 


Heinrich and Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

Please remember us to Epstein and Faber. My 
husband will soon be sending a parcel of new things 
— 'when'* you allow it. Abraham t is publishing a 
string quintet of Ethel's, t Please say whether you 
cannot stay a little longer this time. It would be 
such a fine chance for having some music. We have 
two such good new players, Petri § and Brodsky, who 
are very anxious to play with you. 

1 26. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, November 29, 1883.] 

Dear Lady, — Accept my best thanks. I am only 
waiting until the promised parcel arrives to repeat 
them on the largest-sized note-paper. If I can, and 
when I can, II I shall be happy to send you my modest 

* A deliberate use of 'when' for 'if as a specimen of South 
German dialect. 

f Of the firm Peters. 

% Miss Ethel Smyth. 

§ Henri Petri (b. 1856), pupil of Joachim and of Brussels Con- 
servatoire, had been appointed leader of the Gewandhaus orchestra 
in 1882. 

II The 'if and 'when' are a protest against the 'when' in the 
preceding letter. 


symphony.* Not that your reasons have any weight 

with me — quite the reverse ! You will master it in no 

time. — Always yours, 

J. Br. 

127. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, December 21, 1883.] 

My very dear Friend, — Keeping a promise implies 
having made one. This I shall do as soon as I can, 
but to-day I will just write two lines of thanks for 
your parcel full of interesting things. 

If I take them to the piano, I am transported to 
your nice comfortable rooms, and can distinctly hear 
your very sweet singing. But if, like a true German, 
I begin to grumble, a sudden alarm seizes me, and 
I think: 'Better be quiet; all that applies equally to 
yourself, and your music has such a dreadful bachelor 
ring into the bargain !' Some of the grumbling I shall 
be able to let off on Heinz without exposing myself 
too much. I feel most at home in your study, with the 
first two and last two of the duets. They must surely 
be your favourites, too ?t 

His music, or his way of writing, often reminds me 
of his charming rhymes, and, now that I remember, 
I particularly want you to save up all his Christmas 
verses this year for me to read. 

I have suddenly decided to send you a few songs. 

* ' Modest ' — in reference to a quibble he had once had over the 
word with Frau von Hcrzogenberg, and also with a view to damping 
her expectations. 

f Ducts for soprano and tenor, with pianoforte accompaniment, 
Op. 38. Brahms specifies No. i, Die Waise; No. 2, Begegnung; No. 8, 
Aolsharfen ; No. 9, Im Abcndrot. Herzogcnbcrg named the new house 
he built for his wife at Heiden, on Lake Constance, after the last of 
these. She died before it was finished. 

'CARMEN' 187 

I hardly know whether to ask you to forward them to 

Perhaps you will favour me with your candid 
opinion of them ? I am also sending a very beautiful 
thing of Muffat'Sjt which you may not know. I now 
have the original edition, so do not need the copy. 

Besides which I am asking Simrock to send you one 
of my very special favourites. { I can't get it here in 
its original garb (that is, language), and have never 
seen it at your house. If you should fail to share my 
enthusiasm, I shall be happy to tuck it under my arm 
and carry it off again in February. — With kindest 
regards, yours, j^ Brahms. 

128. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, January 6, 1884. 

Dear Friend, — I am at last writing to thank you in 
due form for sending the songs, which we were so 
delighted to have. It is really too nice of you to think 
of such a thing in the thick of your winter campaign, 
even going to the trouble of tying up and addressing 

■^ For the purpose of publication. They were the six Licder unci 
Romanzen fur vierstimmigen gcmischten Chor, a capella, Op. 93a. 

+ Georg Muffat (1645-1704), famous in his day as an organ 
composer. The Passacaglia in G was from his Apparatus Mtisico- 
organisticus. Brahms admired it very much, and had copied it out 
for his own use. 

X Bizet's Carmen, for which Brahms had at first conceived a 
violent dislike, on account of its unconcerned mingling of tragedy 
and Hght comedy. But the French composer's wealth of melody, 
and his broad treatment of his subject, soon triumphed over Brahms's 
aesthetic scruples, and the consciousness of having been unjust (if 
only in thought) to an inspired musician helped to drive him to the 
other extreme. He never wavered afterwards in his love for Carmen, 
which even usurped the place of Die weisse Dame in his affections 
at ti mes. 


the parcel yourself. But it is the fact of your remem- 
bering Humboldtstrasse (appreciative it undoubtedly 
is !) that most touched us. I will confess, in com- 
pliance with your request for a 'candid opinion,' that 
we do not like all the songs equally well. There are 
certain passages to which I cannot reconcile myself at 
all. Indeed, I aired my opinions as brazenly as any 
old carping critic, though I tore up all I had written 
in the end, for * what does it matter toyou ? It matters 
nothing to you,' as, fortunately, I was able to see. 

Fahr wohl is very graceful and pleasing, so are 
Susser Mai and Mddchen,* particularly the entries of 
the solo Mddchen. Taken all together, the gentler 
songs appeal most to me. Even in Fahr wohl there 
is one place which does not seem at all like you, but 
you will probably laugh, and bring me to reason. How 
I am looking forward to the good month February ! 

The symphony has practically robbed us of sleep. 
Everyone sends us cruelly gushing letters, describing 
it as grander and more perfectly lovely than its two 
predecessors, while we sit here holding our empty 
cup, and with no immediate prospect of seeing it filled. 
Joachim had it with him when he was playing quartets 
here, but was too conscientious to show it us ! Fortu- 
nately, we only heard of it later, or we should have 
given him no peace. You can imagine how pleased 
we were that Joachim did a new quartet of Heinrich's 
in Berlin and here. I wish you had heard it too, for, 
as one can always say with the old peasant woman : 
Mettez-y voire main^ il n'y manquera plus rien.\ It is 

* Lieder unci Romanzen, Op. 93a, Nos. 4, 3, 2. 

t Herzogcnberg's string quartet was published, together with the 
two earlier ones, by Rieter-Biedcrmann as Op. 42. The three are 
dedicated to seinem hochvcrchrtcn Frcunde Johannes Brahms. 

^CARMEN' 189 

only when you approve of anything he does that 
Heinrich feels like my uncle, the Geheimrat, who woke 
in the night, and said to his wife : ' Rosa, I am ** Your 
Excellency'"! (His new dignity dated from the day 
before.) Joachim was unusually simple and charming 
this time, and his two fine bo3^s are so becoming to 
him! But a man's sons are indeed his best adorn- 
ment ! . . . 

Once more many thanks for the songs (I may keep 
them until you come ?), also for the delightful Muffat 
and your very special favourite, who is in good hands 
with me. I have no quarrel with the music, but 
only with the horrible shock one receives on first 
seeing Carmen^ and the tactlessness of springing that 
tragic ending on an unsuspecting audience tuned to 

Prince Reuss f passed through yesterday, and, 
although he is going to be married, took a keen 
interest in your exclusively 'bachelor' music, { to 
Heinrich's delight. I, meantime, was condemned to 
make an unfortunate pupil's life a burden to her. 

I shall waste no New Year wishes on you, for you 
want nothing — or at worst a copyist who is a model of 
neatness ; but our New Year wish for ourselves is that 
you may still spare us a little affection, and add much 
that is new to the old store. — Ever your faithful 


* Her aesthetic instinct was not at fault, but she was too open- 
minded to reject the good with the bad. 
t See Letter 103, note. 
X See Letter 127. 


129. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, yawwary 11, 1884.] 

Dear Friend, — So far as I know, you neither possess 
this book * nor know of it. I imagine it should interest 
you considerably, and enable you to forget the volu- 
minous Bohmet with great speed. I shall enjoy going 
through it with you at Leipzig ; it will be as good as 
a country ramble. 

In about a week I hope to send you the too, too 
famous F major, in a two-piano arrangement, from 
Wiesbaden. The reputation it has acquired makes 
me want to cancel all my engagements.^ — Very sin- 
cerely yours, 

J. Br. 

1 30. Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

My very dear Friend, — Many thanks for the pleasant 
surprise. The book is delicious, and it is so good of 
you to think of me and take me in hand at all this 
distance. My conversion was an easier matter than 
you thought, for, compared with this sweet outpouring 
of melodies, Bohme's collection already seems to me 
more like a frozen ditch, which has first to be hacked 

* An old collection of German volkslieder. 

t Bohme's Altdeutsches Liederbuch (cf. Letter 62, note, and Kalbeck, 
Life of Brahms, i. 390). 

I After the first performance of this symphony (No. 3 in F) in 
Vienna on December 2, 1883, a veritable triumph for the composer, 
various daily papers and periodicals had asserted that not only did 
it far outshine its predecessors, but also that it was the best thing 
Brahms had ever produced. Brahms was exceedingly annoyed by 
this extravagant and unjust praise, especially as it raised expectations 
which he thought could not be fulfilled. He conducted the symphony 
at Wiesbaden, where it had been written, on January 18, 1884. 


before the poor little blossoms can be dug out of the 
mud. Or shall I compare it to a naturalist's cabinet, 
in which the wretched little birds, preserved in arsenic, 
look at one so stupidly with their glass eyes ? But we 
can decide this when we meet — that is, if we Herzo- 
genbergs have room for a thought of anything but the 
all-famous F major ! 

By the way, should you have any objection to con- 
ducting the B flat concerto for little Julius Rontgen on 
that occasion ? We should think it very graceful of 
you, as we can easily imagine the dear boy's delight. 
We are also endeavonring to include the Rhapsody, 
an overture, and a few songs and piano pieces by 
Brahms. You need only give your blessing, and be 
very nice in making allowances for us all. Then it 
will be a real festival for us and for the greater part 
of the audience, who are only waiting for a sign from 
above (Limburger, etc.) to render unto Caesar that 
which is Caesar's. 

We cannot watch Engelmann's departure to Wies- 
baden without a pang;* not that we grudge it him, 
Heaven knows ; but we wish we could go too. 

Oh, and please remember to send the two-piano 
symphony. Prince Reuss made us crazy with a few 
fragments of it. You yourself might come with it, or 
at least as soon as you possibly can. — With kindest 
regards from the impatient wife, your grateful 


*■ Professor Engelmann had obtained a long leave on account of 
his health. 


131. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] February 11, 1884. 

Ah, the bitter, bitter parting! We are in the act of 
sending away our dear, dear symphony.* Yesterday 
was Sunday, when the parcel should have been taken 
to post before eleven o'clock, but I couldn't bear it ! 
It is really good of me to send it to-day, don't you 
think, dear friend ? Heaven has rewarded me for 
keeping my promise, too, for I have managed to 
commit the two middle movements to memory most 
beautifully, and the first one very nearly. So I can 
amuse myself endlessly with the treasure I have 
stored, though the remainder bothers me sadly. It is 
now my very best friend — the symphony — and the 
giver of it a real benefactor. 

Enjoy yourself thoroughly at Colognef among these 
enthusiastic folk, whose hearts go out to you ; but with- 
out quite forgetting the handful of people in this cold- 
blooded city who would willingly challenge all the 
rest of your admirers put together. 

And think of us to-morrow when the famous E flat 
comes in in the first movement. | That passage will 
live ! 

But there — one might run on for ever ! — Your devoted 


* Brahms had conducted the symphony on February 7 at the 
Gewandhaus, after which H ermine Spiess sang Schubert's Memnon 
and Geheimes to the orchestral accompaniment arranged by Brahms, 
and several Brahms songs. On the day before, Brahms played his 
violin sonata at the first concert of the new Brodsky quartet. 

f Brahms conducted the symphony and the Song of the Fates at the 
eighth Giirzenich concert on February 12. 

% The romantic horn part, p. 24 of the score, bar 5. 


132. Herzogenh erg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, March 24, 1884. 

My very dear Friend, — I feel very young and 
foolish to-day, in spite of my forty years, as I 
produce my pensiim for your inspection. I am 
only thankful I need not attempt any justification, 
either for my pieces — which do not come into 
account — or for the dedication. That part of it is 
over. * 

I should, however, like to take this opportunity of 
asking you to believe in my devotion to you, in my 
joyful appropriation of every one of your productions 
as a favour personal to myself. Indeed, I am no hypo- 
crite ; the light and warmth which you spread over the 
whole world would leave me cold did I not feel that 
you had reached this elevation for my sake, for my 
own insignificant personal happiness ! And that 
makes you my friend, whether you will or no. You 
are so full of kindness to me. 

Incidentally you light my own little path so lovingly 
that I hardly notice the twilight in which I ought to 
be blundering, but brave the light of day with 
a whole heap of things, such as these quartets. As 
they had the unusual good fortune to bear your 
name as a banner, I have conceived a positive respect 
for these my own children. 

Do not resent my little speech, dear master. It is 
a loyal heart which interposes all this parable and 
hyperbole to screen its nakedness from you. 

My wife, whose illness put an end to our Dresden 

* The reference is to the three string quartets mentioned in 
Letter 128. 



pilgrimage,* and — almost — to all the joy of my life, has 
at last taken a turn. We are even making plans for 
the future, though she will hardly be able to put her 
nose out of doors before the middle of April. 

She sends the gayest messages, as convalescents are 
apt to do. — In unwavering devotion, yours, 


133. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, March 28, 1884.] 

Dear Friend, — What a lot of good things at once — 
the good news of your wife and the dedication ! I 
hardly know which pleases me more, the pieces dedi- 
cated or the dedication itself. Both have exceeded 
my anticipations, for I had looked forward to seeing 
my name on one quartet — and behold it is on all 
three ! 

I knew I could count on enjoying the music, and my 
enjoyment is so great that I really hesitate to say any- 
thing just at once. I am so ready to praise, and you 
to turn suspicious, I fear! One thing is certain; this 
great opus is your best, and whenever your wife's 
enthusiasm finds vent in playing it through, be sure 
that I am happy to follow her from beginning to end. 

Ah yes, the dear wife ! What were the whole 
dedication, had she not, with her usual kindness, 
consented to get well? 

* A succession of concerts devoted to Brahms's music was given in 
Dresden, March 5-10. On the 5th Brahms conducted his Rhapsodic 
(H ermine Spiess being the soloist), and the final chorus from Rinaldo ; 
on the 7th his new symphony (No. 3); while Biilow played the 
Pianoforte Sonata in F minor on the loth. Frau Herzogenberg's 
serious illness prevented their going. 


To you it would have meant the loss of everything, 
and even to others, her friends, something of the best 
in life. 

If your spirits go on rising, and you care to write, 
let me know. Have they recommended a Bad^ or can 
you look forward to your new house ? I think of going 
to Ischl ; we must meet there in the summer. 

I have here on my table two of Beethoven's cantatas 
which no one can have seen for at least fifty years — 
hardly, indeed, since they were written in 1790 — one 
on the death of Joseph H., the other on the enthrone- 
ment of Leopold n. And you might have had them 
from a Leipzig antiquarian the other day ! The 
F major part from the finale to Leonore is introduced 
in the former!* 

Once more my very hearty thanks. I am just going 
to play it, much better, on the piano, and shall think 
of you both affectionately. — Ever yours, 

J. Brahms. 

1 34. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Leipzig, A'pril 10, 1884. 

Dear Friend, — I have to break to you the sad news 
that Chrysander's eldest son, who was serving his 

* The cantatas, written out by a contemporary copyist, had been 
presented to Brahms by Eduard HansUck, who had received them 
from an admirer, Armin Friedmann, who in his turn had them from 
an antiquarian in Leipzig. Hanslick was just going to Karlsbad for 
his health, and left them with Brahms. Brahms's letter in reply was 
of extraordinary length for him, and was obviously intended to be 
made public. It is typical of his attitude towards the fashion of 
printing everything bearing a distinguished name, and has been 
included in Hanslick's musical essays, published in 1899 under the 
title Am Eiide des Jahrhundcrts (see pp. 379-383). 



year* here, died the night before last in the military 
hospital. He had outgrown his strength, and suc- 
cumbed to a violent inflammation of the lungs in 
a few days. His poor father came too late to see him 
alive. He was all alone ; his brother, who had been 
here, was home for the Easter holidays. 

Heinrich has just gone with Spitta, who has been 
here some days, to Chrysander, to accompany him to 
the station, where he is to meet the coffin and take it 
home by a night train. 

We are all quite heart-broken, and can think of 
nothing else. He was such a dear, promising fellow, 
the joy and pride of his father, who saw in him not 
only a son, but a spiritual heir. He had so often said 
to Spitta, in speaking of him, that he would know just 
what to do when his father died, and could carry on 
his work to completion.! 

The old problem presents itself: 'Wherefore is 
light given to him that is in misery ?'| while this youth 
is cut down on the threshold of life ! 

The sight of such grief makes one almost — almost ! — 
wonder whether the superficial people are right who 
say it is better to have no children to lose. 

I know you will sympathize deeply, and your 
sympathy will mean much to the poor father. I 
thought I would let you know at once. 

Your very, very kind letter was a great joy both to 
Heinrich and myself. 

You would not believe how many times we read it. 

Recovery is delightful in any case, but doubly so 

* Educated men are usually able to avoid the compulsory three 
years' service by serving one year at their own expense. — Tr. 

t Chrysander's Handel biography, of which the first half of the 
third volume had appeared in 1867, remained unfinished. 

X Motet by Brahms, Op. 74, No. i (Job iii. 20). 


when our best friends hold out their hands to welcome 
us back. 

But we realize, too, how bitter death must be. 

Poor Chrysander ! 

No more to-day, except a warm message of thanks 


E. Herzogenberg. 

135. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 24, 1884.] 

My dear Friend, — Many thanks for your letter, 
though it was indeed a bitter disappointment. I 
put it by so confidently to enjoy it undisturbed after 
looking through the rest of my correspondence. And 
then — what a tragedy ! Don't you see now that it is 
a trifle to the Deity to inflict worse punishment than 
childlessness ! This poor man had no pleasure in life 
outside his work and his home. 

But I am writing with a purpose, and must ask to 
be excused the indelicacy — or whatever it may be — of 
coming straight to the point. 

I sometimes wonder if it might not be good for your 
health to leave Leipzig, and settle — say, in Graz ? 

In this case, I should suggest Wiesbaden, with the 
added information that their Gesangverein is conductor- 
less. I strongly recommend the post to Heinrich. 

Wiesbaden is undeniably a watering-place, but there 
are some excellent and charming people there, whom 
I could name and recommend to you.* 

The Gesangverein there has possibilities which 
Leipzig does not offer. The former conductor was 

* Brahms had in mind principally the house of Rudolf and Laura 
Beckerath, where he was quite at home. 


not much good so far as I could judge. There are 

two good orchestras in the town, at the Kurhaus and 

the opera. Then consider the favourable position — 

with Frankfurt so near, for instance. I will make 

inquiries at Wiesbaden, in any case, to know whether 

anyone has been appointed. And now I will stop — 

one minute though ! We much enjoyed hearing a 

trio of Heinz's for piano and strings at Door's* the 

other day. I hope Epstein's letters are better to read 

than mine. He has no such tiresome and difficult 

ones to write as the one I have to send to Cologne at 

this moment !t — Ever yours sincerely, 


I have here, by the way, two Beethoven cantatas 
that not another soul knows. They were written in 
1792 on the death of Joseph H. and the enthronement 
of Leopold respectively. We Viennese do get hold of 
these titbits occasionally W 

1 36. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, April 25, 1884.] 

Dear Friend, — How much could I say in reply to 
your most kind letter, had I but a tithe of the fluency 
you impute to Epstein ! But how can I write with 
hampers and packing-cases everywhere, the furniture 

* Anton Door (b. 1833), Viennese pianist, whose trio-evenings were 
very popular. 

t The post of Director of the Giirzenich concerts and the Con- 
servatorium was to become vacant in October through the retirement 
of Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1884), and there were negotiations on foot 
to appoint Brahms successor. 

X Brahms had evidently forgotten his letter on the subject, written 
on March 28. 


upside down, and the somewhat compHcated arrange- 
ments for our final concert on my hands ? 

The name Wiesbaden is indeed music in the ears 
of a Leipziger. It really makes one's brain swim to 
think of those healthy, joyous, musical women's voices, 
and the tenors with their high B flat. It would be 
charming if you could find out casually whether the 
Wiesbadeners have waited for me. The very climate 
for my precious wife, too ! I really think I could 
let everything slide : my new house into which I 
move to-morrow on a five years' lease, the good old 
Bachverein, and all the delicate threads that bind me 
to Leipzig, taking my last little fling at the eleventh 
hour, if — there are, of course, many * ifs,' but I could 
consider them later. You might, however, tell me 
just one thing, as you have spent a summer there. 
Does the Verein get any rest in summer? It seems 
doubtful, as Wiesbaden is a watering-place. I should 
not much like selling my house at Berchtesgaden just 
now, when I am looking forward to working there. 
But instead of trespassing on your kindness with a 
string of questions, I will write by this post to our 
discreet Engelmann. He often goes to Wiesbaden — 
has been there just now indeed, and must know the 
ropes more or less. 

Cologne is off, then?* It is a pity, as we might 
have been your neighbours ! 

You cannot conceive of poor Chrysander's misery. 
We were all too late to see the dear, good, tall young 
fellow, as we only heard of his illness the evening before. 
And so it happened that he died alone in hospital. 
They had not even a bed long enough for him. But 
old Chrysander has, all the same, an iron constitution, 
* Brahms had refused the post. 


as Spittaand I discovered when we spent the following 
day with him. Although in bed to recruit his strength, 
he entertained us with the most wonderful auctioneer's 
tales, and was full of all sorts of plans for the future. 
We both felt that the terrible blow had failed to crush 
him. He went off in the evening with his sad burden, 
and was worked up into a state of misery that would 
melt a stone, spending much more than he could afford 
on taking his son home to the old village cemetery. 
What a mixture the man is — iron and gold ! 

I write your address, Karlsstrasse, with a certain 
awe, for have you not been writing hard there these 
two months (composing a couple of symphonies, I 
dare swear !) in enviable possession of the Beethoven 
cantatas ! We, too, have our treasures, though with- 
out being able to enjoy them fully, for we have no 
piano, being in a state of gradual dissolution. For- 
tunately, however, the F major* is still fresh in our 
memories. Simrock kept his promise nobly, and we 
thank you heartil3\ 

My wife still coughs a good bit, but is behaving 
well on the whole and sends kindest regards. 

Address — here still. — Yours most sincerely, 


137. Elisahet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig, May 5, 1884] 


Dear Friend, — We are sending you the little portrait 
of Felix Mendelssohn as a child, t Dear Frau Wach 

* Symphony in F. + Written at the Wachs' house. 

X A reproduction of Wilhehn Hensel's pencil drawing. Brahms 
hked the serious, expressive face of the child, and hung up the 
portrait in his music-room. 


got it for us — one of the few copies strongly guarded 
by the family * Fafners.' She was pleased to hear how 
much you liked it. 

Enjoy yourself thoroughly the day after to-morrow,* 
and remember how many people are made happy by 
your existence and by a share in your affections. 

If you will let your kindness and friendship celebrate 
as many happy returns as those we wish you, Herr 
Doktor, we may yet live to sun our grey hairs in the 
light of your good-will. Has anything come of the 
inquiries you promised to make at Wiesbaden ? Your 
letter roused many expectations, and gave us much to 
think of. It seems incongruous just when we are 
settling into a new house, and hammering in nails as 
if for all eternity. Zeitzerstrasse 2^d is the new 
address. I am not there yet, but am being spoilt by 
these kind Wachs, who wanted to spare me the fatigue 
of moving. 

Good-bye, and may this be a good year for you — 
rich in treasure for us ! — Ever your old friend, 

E. Herzogenberg. 

Frau Rontgen, who has just come in, wishes to be 
warmly remembered to you. 

138. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, May 8, 1884.] 
Dear Friend, — I start for Italy to-day,t so shall find 
the sweet child-portrait on my way through again at 

* His birthday. 

I Brahms's fourth tour in Italy was made in company with Rudol 
V. d. Leyen, a friend from Krefeld. They went by way of Trient 
and Lake Garda to Upper Italy, where they were the guests of the 
Duke of Meiningen at Villa Carlotta on Lake Como (see R. v. d. 
Leyen's Johannes Brahms als Mensch und Freund, p. 40). 


the end of the month — I have to go to DusseldorP — 
ugh ! Very many thanks for your kind thought of me. 

Would your husband care to make inquiries of 
Madame Leonhard Wolff at Wiesbaden, mentioning 
my name ? Wolff is a very nice fellow. He would 
have liked to secure the post for Richard Barth,t who 
has, I hear, declined it. 

Please remember me to your kind hosts. — In haste, 


Zeitzerstrasse ? Zeigerstrasse ? Zietenstrasse ?t 

1 39. Elisahei von Herzogenherg to Brahms, 

[Leipzig] Zeitzerstrasse, 24c/ II., 
September 13, 1884. 

Dear Friend, — I think I have been too backward 
this time. I ought to have wormed some crumbs of 
news out of you, for my present famished condition 
might have been avoided, even without transgressing 
the self-imposed limits of my modesty as a correspon- 
dent. So 1 hope you will be generous, and write me 
a friendly line or two at once. Our failure to meet 
this summer is an error which can only be rectified 
next year, for our meeting during the winter is an 
assured thing apart, and I only hope we may have full 
measure this time. 

As you see, we are still here, and have various 
beautiful cantatas coming on ; the 44th will be the 
next. I am so well that I can look forward to the 

* Brahms conducted his third symphony and the Song of the Fates 
at the Lower Rhine Festival. 

+ Richard Barth (b. 1850), violinist and conductor ; author of a 
valuable monograph, Johannes Brahms unci seine Musik. 

% The Herzogenbergs' new address. 


winter without alarm, though I shall be forced to keep 
strictly to a certain diet, designed to make me more 
podgy than I already am. 

Nothing came of the Wiesbaden scheme, as of course 
you realized long ago, dear Uncle Brahms ! Their 
affectionate concern for our welfare was evidently not 
equal to yours. Afterwards we were glad, for it trans- 
pired that the climate was much too relaxing for me, and 
most unsuitable for anyone with a weak heart. Since 
then we have had various other offers, of which the 
most attractive was a call to Berlin. Heinrich has, in 
fact, found it irresistible, and has practically promised 
to present himself, in due time, and see how school- 
mastering suits him.* But an unfortunate misunder- 
standing (either poor Joachim was absent-minded, or 
Heinrich too greedy for the honour which, like Julius 
Caesar, he had refused three times !) led us to assume 
that it was a question of taking it on in January, and a 
report to that effect was spread far too rapidly. All 
our endeavours to stop it are ineffectual, and, for the 
first time in our lives, we have incurred the imputation 
of being indiscreet and neither able to wait nor to hold 
our tongues. I hope it will not come to the ears of the 
worthy Kiel,t who is to remain at his post this winter, 
although resigned to being pensioned off soon. If you 
should be asked, please say that you know us to be 
more taken up with our Bach performances here than 
ever — * Abide with us 't being one on the list. 

* Herzogenberg had been offered the post of Principal of the 
Academischc Meisterschule for composition, and director of the 
theoretical side at the Hochschule, together with the title of 

t Friedrich Kiel {1821-1885), composer and theorist, Herzogenbcrg's 
predecessor at the Hochschule. 


And, really, Leipzig does not seem so bad, viewed 
in the treacherous light of a vague melancholy at 
parting, and enhanced by the great comfort of our new 
house. I hope you will soon come and give our spare 
room a look of having been used. You promised us 
so many Christmas treats at Wiesbaden, and little as 
I grudge our dear Engelmann all these good things in 
his year of holiday (of which we were all so glad to 
hear), you must spare us something too, and not 
deprive us of the oft-repeated favour of looking at some 
beloved new work avant la lettre. Two years ago you 
were particularly good about the F major quintet, and 
it seems to me you might rejoice my heart with some- 
thing new again. I consider I am not undeserving, 
for do I not acknowledge it to be my greatest pleasure, 
and have I not left you in peace ever so long, piously 
contenting myself with silent raptures over Magelone 
and the Serenades !^ And when have you promised to 
come in response to Herr Limburger's entreaties ? . . . 

Good-bye for to-day, and please let fly a leaflet 
which will bring you vividly before us. You may 
leave the famous post-card addressed to us, which is 
supposed to be lying in your writing-case, for another 

Lina Rontgen played your D minor concerto, at the 
first Gewandhaus yesterday, with such delight and 
enthusiasm that it was a pleasure to hear her. Fare- 
well, remember us, and let us hear from you. 

E. Herzogenberg. 

* Brahms's songs from Tieck's Magelone, Op. 33, and the Serenade?!, 
Op. II and 16. 


140. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg, 

[MtJRZzuscHLAG, October , 1884.] 

Dearest Friend, — I have to go back to Vienna 
to-morrow morning, and have no time to answer your 
kind letter properly. I just wish to say that I will 
subscribe £2^ for our friend.* I understand nothing 
about money matters, but if they keep to their decision 
of only giving him the interest, and should the sum 
collected be very moderate, I would send another 
£2^ on condition that this second half went to him 

Besides my thanks I have really nothing worth 

sending in reply, for even this,t which I enclose by 

way of a greeting, is in the publisher's hands. But I 

will see that he does not inflict a copy on you as well ! 

— With kindest regards, yours, 


141. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, October 21, 1884.] 

Some precocious person wrote protesting against 
the use of w/, mezzo-piano^X in the course of the summer. 
Do me the favour — seriously ! — and get the notice for 
me. Who wrote it, and where did it appear ? Prob- 
ably in Fritzsch's paper ;§ you might ask him first. 
Too much of this foolishness goes unnoticed. My name 

* The paragraph suppressed in the preceding letter contained an 
eloquent description of a poor musician in great straits through no 
fault of his own. 

t The manuscript of Gestillte Sehnsucht, Op. 91, No. i. 

X In Emil Breslaur's music-teachers' periodical Dcr Klavicrlchrer, 
Brahms was fond of using mp to denote a fine shade between 
' mezzo-forte ' and ' piano.' 

§ Musikalischcs Wochenblait. 


is not mentioned, but my weakness for mp is well 

known. I may count on the notice ? I hope to hear 

about that business matter as well.* Thanks for the 

last letter — soon to be last but one, I hope. — Sincerely 


J. Br. 

142. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

My name is of course at your service. I discussed 
the matter with Hanslick ; he may not make it public, 
I suppose ?t Not that it would be any use here, as I 
know, for our friend is too little known. 

Don't forget to hunt up the article with the attack 

on mp ! — Sincerely yours, 


143. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, October 26, 1884.] 

Dear, dear Friend, — You should have been thanked 
at once for all your kindness, but your most kind 
letter, made doubly precious by your prompt, noble 
sympathy and the welcome manuscript, reached me in 
Berlin, where I had no free moment ; and, like you, I 
don't care to write post-cards where I feel letters. But 
few things have given me more pleasure than your 
;^25. Truly you are of the 'cheerful' givers whom 
* God loveth,' and the general attitude in * high ' and 
' highest ' circles is, alas ! such as to throw yours into 
special relief I am curious to know how much we 
shall collect altogether. 

Heinz promises to make the m,p article his special 

* The fund which was being collected for a musician, 
t Refers to the same fund. 


concern, and if possible to unmask the writer. He has 
missed finding Fritzsch twice already. I believe he is 
always with his Thekla* That is my name for the 
Adiophon,t which seems to be a great success, and not 
only with sentimental women, 

I would rather say nothing about the alto songt 
until I have tried it over thoroughly with the viola. 
At present I am distracted by the two voices, and am 
most in love with the exquisite cadences, particularly 
Wann schlaft Ihr^wann schlaft Ihr ein? with the beauti- 
ful G minor-E major harmonies, and the way in which 
the viola catches up the theme from the voice. But that 
Lispeln der Winde is difficult for even a clever singer. 
Why are you sometimes so cruel as to turn poor 
women into oboes or violins? Is it because you 
begin with a B, like a certain other relentless person ?§ 
How easily Sie lispeln die Welt in Schlummer pours out 
of our grateful throats immediately after ! 

I am as happy as a child (indeed, your gifts — yes, 
gifts ! — invariably turn me into a child) as I look at it 
and try it over, revel in it — you know to what extent ! 
Will it appear in company with * Joseph^ lieber Joseph 
mein ' ? || 

Heinz's kindest regards, and he would like to know if 
the Fourth Symphony is true?1[ Julius Rontgen de- 
clares it is, but Heinz says you would never have kept 
anything of the sort from us all this time ; it would be 

* Poem by Schiller, composed by Schubert. 

t A piano with tuned forks in place of strings, invented by Fritzsch 
and Fischer. 
X Op. 91, No. I. § Beethoven. 

II The second of the two songs, with viola obligato, published in 
1884 as Op. 91. 

\ The fourth symphony was commenced in the summer of 1884 at 


too unkind of a generous person like you.* We do 
not need to have our appetites whetted in this case. 

If you ever write that letter that is supposed to be 
coming, please say how Arthur Faber is, and remember 
us very kindly to them. Also to Epstein, please. 

With all the old — and much new — grateful affec- 
tion, your faithful 


144. Brahms to Herzogenherg, 

[Vienna, November 18, 1884.] 

I can't compete with you luxurious Leipzigers. Five 
thousand marks for the manuscripts ! No need for 
an auction ! And the stack of Klavierlehrer] took my 
breath away. Must I send the silly stuff back? Of 
course with many thanks for the trouble taken ! But 
who would keep it ? Not even Herr Fritzsch, surely. 
Just let me know whether it may go into the paper- 
basket of — yours sincerely, 

J. Br. 

145. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, November 21, 1884.] 

I am far more grateful for your long letters 
than you might think. Please consider my purse 
quite at your disposal. The mp in the Klavierlehrer 
has developed into so vast a puddle that one can only 
beat a hasty retreat. Probably I happened to see just 

* Brahms was never known to discuss his plans or his com- 
positions while they were in progress, but this did not prevent the 
wildest guesses and conclusions on the part of others. Rontgen 
could only have learned the fact by the merest chance. 

t Copies of the Bach cantatas, written out in Brahms's own 
writing, had been offered for sale. 


one number that summer. Many thanks to Herr 
Fritzsch,* whose paper seems very fine and classical 
by contrast — in spite of St. Kolf !t 

Heckmann is doing your — our quartett (No. i) to- 
day. His first concert made a most favourable impres- 
sion. It will be very good. — Sincerely yours, 

J. Br. 

146. Brahms to ersogenberg. 

[Vienna, December i, 1884.] 

Dear Friend, — Just a hasty line. I have concerts 
every day, not only in Vienna, and not only those at 
which I play, but some at which I have only to listen, 
which is very exhausting !§ I expect to leave here on 
the 4th for Hamburg, etc. But I have to send you 
1,750 marks more for our purpose. || 

I should like to — and would really — write at length 
about your quartet : how well the Heckmanns played 
it, and how much I enjoyed it, but it really is not 
possible. The other day I was just off to Pesth ; 
to-day to a concert. I sincerely hope to see you on 
my way home through Leipzig in due time. My 
address at Hamburg is Cafe Moser (Rathausmarkt), 
or at Simrock's. 

Perhaps you will send me a line. — Yours most 
sincerely, j^ ^^ 

* Herzogenberg had ordered a whole year of the periodical through 
Fritzsch (see Letter 141). 

t J. van Santen Kolff, a contributor to the Musikalisches Wochenblatt, 
who had written a series of essays on Erinnerungsmotiv-Leitmotiv. 

J In G minor, Op. 42, dedicated to Brahms. Robert Heckmann's 
quartet evenings soon became a popular institution. 

§ Biilow's tour with the Meininger orchestra in November and 
December included concerts in Vienna, Buda-Pesth, and Graz, at 
which Brahms played his B flat major concerto. 

II Towards the fund mentioned in Letter 150. 



147. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] Zeitzerstrasse, 24, 
December 4, 1884. 

Dear Friend, — Many thanks for your last card, and 
yesterday's note, from which we gather that you will 
have to pass through Leipzig before long, and are 
so good as to like the prospect. We should be still 
happier if you could tell us the date, if only approxi- 
mately. For, about the 8th or loth we are expecting 
Hildebrand, the sculptor, to stay, and we prefer to 
avoid 'false relations/ as we have the skill neither 
of Bach nor of Brahms in dealing with them. The 
said sculptor is coming to learn Frau Schumann by 
heart, with a view to modelling her (it fell through 
once before), and to take his fill of the music he cannot 
get at Florence. He might hear plenty on the three 
festival days* if he can gain admittance to the concert- 
hall, but there is the difficulty ! He will have practi- 
cally to produce a certificate of good behaviour, like 
Tamino, and above all an assurance of his discretion ; 
for so many of the old season-ticket holders have been 
turned away that exception in favour of a new-comer 
can only be made secretly. There is great excitement 
among the public and the directors. It is to be hoped 
that they will finally produce something to justify 
it all. The third evening is bound to be good, but 
it is a question whether Handel's Messiah (Robert 
Franz)t and the Choral Symphony will go much better 
than usual. 

Your 1,750 marks are just to hand. We envy you 

* To inaugurate the opening of the new Gewandhaus on 
December 11, 12, and 13. 

t Robert Franz's edition of the Messiah. 


the fine harvest you have reaped. Ours is so much 
poorer, in spite of all our efforts and the various 
appeals in writing which I have perpetrated. 

Tell me, wasn't Heinrich's quartet a failure in 
Vienna? We realized it perfectly from a post-card 
Heckmann kindly sent. However, it did not trouble 
Heinrich at all. The ^ one person who matters' said 
he had enjoyed it, and that being so, one can afford 
to be indifferent to Viennese opinion in general. It 
would be tragic enough if it were the other wa}^ round. 

Is it true that you are writing a 'cello concerto ?* 
And why are you so uncommunicative, so doubly 
uncommunicative, when you know how much we 
should enjoy it in expectation ? It is very unkind 
of you. I feel rather like Limburger when I press you 
for something new, while there is so much one may 
still learn from the old, not to speak of one's affection 
for the things. Indeed, one is always being drawn 
to them afresh by the discovery of new beauties. In 
the G major sextet the other day, beautifully played by 
Brodsky and his colleagues, I heard much that had 
been hidden before. It is like having a flashlight 
turned on first one place, then another, all the dis- 
coveries going to enrich the precious inner store. 
That was Heinrich's case when he heard the Requiem 
(lucky man ! I could not go) and sat with his nose in 
the score all the next day. He could not calm down 
at all, and insisted again and again that it was not 
sufficiently acknowledged as an events and that people 
did not realize it as they ought. 

But I must stop. Have a good time at Hamburg 
and everywhere else, and let us know if you are likely 

* One of the many false reports spread about Brahms's work. 

14 — 2 


to touch Leipzig, so that we may * exalt every valley ' 

as far as possible. Farewell. Be our friend now and 

always ! — Your faithful 


148. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] Zeitzerstrasse, 
December 29, 1884. 

Dear kind Father Christmas, — You cannot think 
how delighted we were by your surprise visit. We 
are taciturn folk with small skill in demonstrating our 
feelings by pretty speeches, but we hope you were not 
blind to the warm reception our hearts gave you. 
Just at this time too, when one is greedy for good 
things, your visit was the very best thing that could 
happen to us. And let me add a word of special 
thanks for your angelic patience when the whole house 
was upset, the spare-room crammed so full of Christmas 
things that there was hardly room for the good 
Brahms, and you had to make shift with that treacherous 
sofa the first evening. It all went to show, along with 
your other good deeds, what a nice person you are, 
and how kindly disposed towards ourselves. All the 
beauty of the Christmas days departed with you, and 
the usual tiring round set in. There was the tiresome 
Russian soiree, which passed without bloodshed, but 
left an unpleasant taste behind, as is always the way 
when one has no real interest in a thing. I called 
on the Brodskys yesterday, and told them you had 
been here. * It is true, then I' they exclaimed. Little 
Novacek* had seen * him ' in the Zeitzerstrasse, and 
was lamenting that he happened to be on the opposite 

* Ottokar NovaSek (b. 1866), violinist and composer. 


pavement, whereupon Brodsky had stormed, and 
wished he had been in Novacek's place. ' Fools have 
all the luck,' he declared. And when I saw the genuine 
disappointment of this devoted admirer of yours, I was 
really sorry I had given him no opportunity of meeting 
you. I came to the conclusion that you must not 
be allowed to go off in such haste another time, leaving 
your many friends to feel they have been done out of 
seeing you. You are sure to be giving concerts up or 
down the Rhine during the winter, so do make us 
happy once more. I promise you a better time than 
the last, and you shall never have that silly little glass 
for your marsala* again I Also, there is plenty of 
Brahms-wine left. 

We are at last to have a chance, this week, of trying 
the alto songs with viola ; players are notoriously 
scarce in this city of music ! 

There was something I forgot the other day. Little 
Professor Bischoff of Graz has been begging for years 
for a scrap of your manuscript, but, as I am too stingy 
with my own few treasured specimens, I can't be 
expected to give him any. So do please remember 
the poor man, who is one of the true music-lovers, not 
the doubtful connoisseur type. Perhaps you will send 
something along with my boldly demanded Christmas 
present (the songs) ? Since you are our benefactor, 
a little more or less makes no difference ! We are 
past modesty, and only ask to remain your 


* Brahms was very fond of this wine, which reminded him of 

t Ferdinand Bischof, to whom Herzogenberg dedicated his Vier 
Gesdnge, Op. 40. 


They are playing a much-praised symphony (in 
manuscript) of Bruckner's* to-morrow. What do you 
think of this amazing person ? 

149. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

Dear Friend, — Accept my profound thanks for the 
half-crown and everything else besides. To save 
writing too many letters, I will send you a speci- 
men of my Scarlattisf which may interest you — it 
charms me 1 

Your orders concerning Professor Bischof shall 
receive prompt attention. 

I promised you the first volume of Schubert| (the 
first four symphonies), but Hartels have only sent me 
one copy. But don't think of buying it ; only tell me if 
you really want it. You will certainly have an 
opportunity of looking at them, and it seems to me 

* Anton Bruckner (1827-1896), a much-feted Austrian composer, 
whose works gave rise to considerable controversy. Nikisch was 
conducting his seventh symphony at a ' special ' concert at the 

t Besides the rare Czerny edition of Scarlatti, Brahms owned 
several of the sonatas in the original edition, and over 300 old copies 
of the Klaviersiiicke, amongst them 172 unpubhshed pieces from the 
famous collection of Abbate Santini. 

X Brahms had undertaken the revision of Schubert's symphonies 
for the complete edition, published by Breitkopf and Hartel, a re- 
sponsibility he afterwards regretted. His objections to the posthumous 
publication of inferior compositions, which the composer is no longer 
able to defend, are expressed with great plainness in a letter to 
Marie Lipsius (La Mara), written in May, 1885 (see La Mara, 
Musikerbriefe aus fiinf Jahrhunderten, ii. 348). But when the ten 
volumes of Schubert's songs appeared (edited by Mandyczewski), he 
changed his mind, and regretted the superficial way in which he 
had fulfilled his share of the work, as much as his declaration that 
there was no sense in publishing these examples of an early stage 
of the composer's development. 


unnecessary to possess all these things and have so 
much superfluous stuff" lying round. For the same 
reason I am loth to send you the desired bad songs ! 

So Wiesbaden is again on the cards. I need not 
dwell on it, as you will be seeing the Engelmanns,* who 
can tell you everything. 

No more to-day. — With kindest regards, yours, 


150. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Dear Friend, — The dear old songs, your Christmas 
present, reached us yesterday. I could almost thank 
the unknown person who stole our original copy for 
the pleasure it gives me to receive them again from 
you. I feel quite sentimental when I look at my old 
friends in their new cover — their uniform — which 
makes it impossible to distinguish them from any 
of the others by the title-page — a modern invention 
which, like many others, has its disadvantages. 

Our friend Hildebrand will have delivered our 
messages, and told you of the Bruckner excitement 
here, and how we rebelled against having him thrust 
upon us — like compulsory vaccination. We had to 
endure much stinging criticism — insinuations as to 
our inability to detect power under an imperfect 
exterior, or admit a talent which, though not perhaps 
fully developed, still exists, and has a claim to interest 
and recognition. We are not to consider artistic 
results everything, but to admire the hidden driving- 
power, whether it succeeds in expressing itself satis- 
factorily or no. That is all very well in theory, but 
in practice it all depends on the value of this driving- 

* See Letter 130, note. 


power. Unless it is very great, one can only hold 
aloof, and resign oneself to be abused of the philistines, 
who have eyes for beauty only when it wears their own 
colours. We wished we had you to back us up, and 
could hear your sound views, which are based on super- 
abundant experience and are therefore worth more 
than all the theories of the wise, all the mere instincts 
of the simple. And, who knows ? you may agree with 
us, the simple ; and that is what I particularly want 
to know. It would be such a help. Integrity of 
judgment is, to one of us, as precious in the domain 
of art as in human jurisdiction, and it oppresses us to 
appear as narrow-minded, ungenerous, timid observers, 
so afraid of overrating that they lose all sense of 

You must excuse this letter, which, superfluous as 
it must appear, could only be written to you; for who 
else could give us the desired answer? Thank you 
again for the songs. If Bruckner had written Krdnze^ 
or Liebesbotschaftj or Die Liebende schreibt, or Abend- 
ddmmcrung^* I would search the symphony through 
half a dozen times for that hidden gold ; but I think 
the fact is, that whoever could write the one would 
never be guilty of the other. 

Good-bye, and don't be hard on your tormentor, but 

answer — if only with one word. — In old and renewed 

friendship, yours, 

E. Herzogenberg. 

I delighted Gouvyt the other day by telling him 
you had been praising his French songs to me. He 
ordered them forthwith, and I now have the whole 

* Brahms, Op. 46, No. i ; Op. 47, Nos. i, 5 ; Op. 49, No. 5. 

t Ludwig Theodor Gouvy (1822- 1898), distinguished composer. 


fat book of Ronsard before me. I was surprised to 
find so much grace and vivacity in many places, being 
misled, I suppose, by his air of weariness. Yet how 
amateurish his work is in detail ! For instance, he 
never ventures on this close — 

but always has recourse to the horrible chord of six- 
four on D. Young Wolf* has redeemed his symphony 
(which you unfortunately did not suppress before it 
saw the light) by some very charming new songs. 

151. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms, 

Leipzig, January 11, 1885. 

My dear Friend, — How happy you have made us 
again with the gay, dainty Scarlatti piece, which I am 
always playing, and the dear touching song,t which 
makes me long to be a tenor, so as to sing it properly. 
The song has given the poem new words for me ; it 
is so different, so much more beautiful in the light of 
the music. ^ Es dimkelt schon, mich schldfert^ and the 
word Tag^ which comes in so finely on that D, are 
both there in the poem, and yet they mean more than 
they did. It is as if they had always waited for that 
particular dress. How nice of you to smuggle the 
sheet between the pages of Scarlatti ! You know 

♦ Johannes Wolf (b. 1869), a pupil of Spitta, subsequently gave 
up composing for music history, and became tutor at Berlin 

t ' Der Tod, das ist die kiihle Nacht,' Op. 96, No. i. 


what a joy every new note of yours brings, and what 
a double joy to see it before all the singers, great and 
small, have flung themselves upon it. 

We played the alto songs the day before yesterday. 
Klengel* has a splendid viola, and plays well, so we 
had a delightful time singing and listening to the 
two pieces. The old lViege7ilied] is still my favourite. 
It sounds so beautiful, and the way the voice soars 
above the viola is too lovely. The strong legendary 
flavour which characterizes it seems peculiar to this 
song, and you might hear it and play it any number 
of times without breaking the charm. The microscopic 
alterations did not escape me — an F in the bass (which 
is probably omitted by mistake in the corresponding 
passage ?), and a lovely D flat in the voice-part in 
^ Ach wie so mi'id er ward' We and the viola are going 
to journey to the Engelmanns to-day. Spies t is 
spending the day with them, so I shall play the part 
for which I am suited, and accompany her. It will be 
a pleasure to hear the pieces sung for the first time in 
her lovely voice. It wants a magnificent, full voice to 
hold the balance against the almost excessive variety 
and rhythmical complications of the D major piece. 

How I envy you your Scarlatti, if there are many 
such excellent specimens ! What an ingenious fellow 
he is, with his arpeggio figures in the unexpected 
A major part, and the long modulation, which has no 
reference to the piece itself, and his sudden recollection 

* Paul Klengel (1854), a violinist, elder brother of Julius ; con- 
ductor of the ' Euterpe' at Leipzig from 1881 to 1886. 

t Founded on an old sacred melody, ^ Josef, licber Josef mein* 
which Brahms found in Corner's Gross-KatJioHscJies Gesanghuch of 
163 1. Liszt made it a leading theme in his St. Elisabeth, and 
Herzogenberg in his Geburi Christi. 

X H ermine Spies, the singer. 


of the subject and prompt return to it ! Ah yes, a 
robust talent may take liberties which become pre- 
posterous in weaker hands. 

Dear Friend, thank you again for everything, keep 
us in your affections, and, when you write, breathe 
one word about Bruckner. You are not afraid of our 
leading you on, and then proclaiming abroad : Brahms 
says we are right ! We will lie quite low about any- 
thing you say, but a word we do crave for our own 
peace of mind. What do you think of the Vierteljahrs- 
schrift?"^ Heinrich is so glad, because we shall hear 
something of Chrysander again. You probably know 
that he has been taking Spitta's lectures for him 
(Spitta still has to be careful), and comes over from 
Hamburgt ever}' fortnight for the purpose. 

Good-bye for to-day. Heinrich declares you have 
not really gone away, so vividly does he see you at 
every turn, and recall every word you said to him. 
The Scherzo has been put on a separate footing, and 
there is a new one for the second subject of the first 
movement, to my great delight.^ Yesterday we heard 
your C minor quartet § again after a long interval. I 
can only bear to hear Joachim play the two corner 
movements ; the humbler sort do not know how to 
handle them. But the two middle movements sounded 
beautiful, and are really too splendid ; or do you 
know anything much more charming than the third, 
or more affecting than the second ? 

* The Vierteljahrsschrift fiir Musikwissenschaft had just been started 
by Spitta, Chrysander, and Adler. It was published by Breitkopf 
and H artel up to 1894. 

t Chrysander lived at Bergedorf, near Hamburg. 

I Probably refers to Herzogenberg's symphony in C minor, Op. 50, 
then in progress. 

§ Op. 51, No. I. 


When, when are you going to announce the birth 

of your youngest mysterious opus?* Were we not 

amazingly tactful and discreet when you were here ? 

Are we not excellent people, anyway? Good-bye. 

I really shall not write again for ages, but am your 


E. H. 

152. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, January 12, 1885.] 

Dear Lady, — I understand ! You have sat through 
the roaring of Bruckner's symphony once, and now, 
when people talk about it, you are afraid to trust the 
recollection of your own impressions. 

Well, you may safely do so. Your delightful letterf 
expresses most lucidly all that can be said — all that 
one has said oneself or would like to have said so 
nicely. You will not mind when I tell you that 
Hanslick shares your opinion, and read your letter 
with pious joy ! But one symphony and one quintet 
of Bruckner's have been printed. J I advise you to 
get them to look at, with a view to steeling your mind 
and your judgment. You will not want me ! 
# # * # # 

With supreme ill -humour, deepest respect, and 
kindest regards, yours, 

J. Br. 

* The fourth symphony in E minor, 
t Letter 150. 

X The third symphony in D minor, dedicated to Richard Wagner, 
and the quintet in F major. 


153. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, January 14, 1885.] 

Dear Friend, — If I write again to-day, it is all your 
own fault for being so kind. In the first place, you 
will send us things which I cannot accept quite in 
silence, and then you wrote me such an embarrassingly 
charming and consoling letter, for which you must also 
be thanked. It has done us a world of good, inducing 
a state of sudden placidity which enables us to listen 
unmoved to the most extravagant nonsense about poor 
Bruckner, so strengthened are we by the approval of 
one on whom we * invincibly depend,' as Holderlin 
(whom I am reading) says of Schiller. But although 
we can arm ourselves with placidity at a pinch, no one 
can console us for the fact that, in this world of so- 
called culture, there are so many, many people ready 
to be imposed upon by any inflated windbag, if its 
appearance is made with due pomp. One or two not 
quite impossible motifs, like grease-spots swimming on 
the top of weak soup, and there we have ^ Meister' 
Bruckner's whole stock-in-trade, while those who do 
not make immediate obeisance are stamped as unbe- 
lieving Thomases, who want signs and wonders to 
convince them. 

I should just like to know who started the Bruckner 
crusade, how it came about, and whether there is not 
a sort of freemasonry among the Wagnerians. It 
certainly is rather like a game of taroc, or rather that 
form of whist in which, when * misery ' is declared, 
the lowest card takes the trick. 

I am genuinely delighted with the Sophocles.* I 

* A new translation of Sophocles by Giistav Wendt (b, 1827), 
dedicated to Brahms, and presented by him to Frau von Herzogenberg. 



little thought you were so seriously concerned with 
my education when I answered all your cross-ques- 
tioning so unsuspectingly, displaying my appalling 
ignorance at the mention of Donner.* How charming 
that I should just have invested in a copy of Holderlin, 
the lover of the Greeks, in an edition that was once 
Schwab's t own, too, decorated with his marginal notes ! 

Heinrich sends respectful and most affectionate greet- 
ings. He is deep in organ-parts for three cantatas, and 
the St. John Passion-music for March the 2ist.| 

We heard the Wassertrdger^ again after a long 
interval the other day. How nice it is to feel that 
as we grow older we appreciate these things more, 
and strengthen our allegiance to the true gods ! 

With kindest regards, many thanks, and no further 
trace of ill-humour, g. Herzogenberg. 

154. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] February 13, 1885. 
Dear Friend, — Now that I know you to be back in 
Vienna, I will delay no longer in sending one lady's 
thanks for the Tafellied.\ I only wish we had here, 
as in the Rhineland, the right voice material as well 
as the right temperament for singing this graceful 
glee straight aWay while sitting at table, instead of 

■* Josef Jakob Christian Donner, the well-known translator of the 

f Christoph Theodor Schwab, the first editor of Holderlin's 
complete works. 

\ The Leipzig Bachverein performed the St. John Passion-music in 
celebration of Bach's birthday. 

§ Cherubini's opera. 

II Brahms had written a Tafellied (table-song), ' Dank der Damen,' 
Op. 936, for the fiftieth anniversary of the Krefeld Singverein on 
January 27 and 28, and conducted it himself. 


first practising it like any solemn motet. But the fog 
and the soot, timidity and other causes, all combine 
against the fulfilment of any such wish here. What a 
happy selection you made this time, too ! What witch- 
craft leads you to open books of poems at just the right 
place, where there is still treasure for the composer ? 

By way of news to-day I may say that we are 
really in for Berlin.* The decree, stamped by the 
Ministerium for * ecclesiastical, scholastic, and medical 
appointments,' lies before us in all its glory, so I 
suppose we may consider it settled. They have at 
last decided on the charitable fiction that Kiel is to 
have indefinite leave of absence, while Heinrich is to 
act as supply. This is by far the most satisfactory 
way, as it leaves a loophole of escape if the arrange- 
ment fails to suit either Heinrich or them. It makes 
it much easier for him to accept the post. These 
decisions are always difficult, even to happy people 
like ourselves, who take their shell — their feeling that 
life depends on their being all in all to each other — 
with them everywhere. And Berlin never really 
attracted us. You know how it came about — how we 
felt ourselves superfluous here, and how they insisted 
we should be in our right place there, and so we 
decided. We realized clearly, though, how much less 
a decision depends on ourselves than on fate and 
chance. If the Wiesbaden negotiations had not 
dragged quite so much, we should have accepted 
with eagerness, for the plastic chorus material there 
attracted Heinrich far more than the honour of sitting 
on those gilt chairs t (with the Berliners), which, as 

* Herzogenberg's appointment to the Hochschule. 

t Herzogenberg had, further, been elected member of the Academy 
of Arts. A portrait included in this volume shows him in his 
academical robes. 


Wilhelm Grimm says, are * wooden after all, and not 
exempt from the worm !' 

'They hide everything under a correct manner,' he 
goes on to say, * and think themselves cleverer than 
anyone else.' Pray Heaven we may not be infected 
with this poison, but keep our low opinion of our- 
selves (in the best sense). When these great changes 
come, we ought to be glad to be past our first youth, 
and therefore able to sift the chaff from the wheat 
without haste or prejudice. 

But wherever we go, you must be the same to us, 
and provide us with new joys ! 

I had the bad luck to miss the D major symphony, 
so nicely done at Klengel's concert, and more recently 
your * deeply intellectual ' Song of Destiny^ (O shade 
of Fritzsch !) 

Good-bye, and send a line to your devoted 


Was Bruckner's quintet really such a success ?t 

155. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 25, 1885.] 

I should be most happy to send some songs could 

I be sure they would bring in a kind word. But my 

song-copyist t is on tour with the Strauss orchestra. § 

For to-day kindest regards. — Yours, 

J. Br. 

* Op. 54 ; quotation from the Musikalisches Wochenblatt. 

t Bruckner's quintet was performed in Vienna for the first time 
on January 8, 1885, at the Hellmesberger quartet concert. The 
Adagio alone had a succes d'estime. 

X Wilhelm Kupfer, a 'cellist, native of Hamburg, acted for many 
years as copyist to Brahms. 

§ Eduard Strauss's orchestra. 


1 56. Brahms to Heinrich and Elisahet von Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, May 6, 1885.] 

My dear Friends, — I have succumbed to the tempta- 
tion of sending you a few songs. In case there should 
be any question of it, I must ask you not to have the 
Nachtigall or the Wanderer^ copied. On the other 
hand, I should be very glad if you felt like giving 
me your opinion of the two little creatures. 

I need not say that they are more or less twins — on 
whom I am now trying all sorts of experiments. I 
have given the nightingale a new note, for instance ;t 
but it is not the thing yet, by any means. 

It would be charming if you had a little word to 
say to each little song. No need to apologize if the 
verdict be a hard one, a curt ' away with them !' 

I have to add that I should, of course, send more 

Scarlatti if there were any others as good. I have 

over 300 beautiful old manuscript copies, of which 

172 are unpublished.l Czerny made use of them for 

a collection, which is as admirably selected as edited. 

His edition, containing 200 pieces, probably stopped 

short where it did by chance, or he would hardly have 

overlooked your specimen. You should really try 

to get a copy (Czerny's edition, Haslinger, Vienna) 

through some good antiquarian. It is rare now. I 

had to wait a long time before I could find a complete 

copy. Please write very soon. — Yours, 


* Op. 97, No. I, and Op. io6, No. 5, 

t Brahms had taken the melody to ' Hier, wo sick die Strassen 
scheiden ' from the Wanderer, and adapted it for the Nightingale. 
Any attempt, therefore, to detect the nightingale's note in the four 
introductory bars or the song itself is obviously unjustifiable. There 
could be no better argument against * programme music' 

% Cf. Letter 149. 



157. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg, 

[Vienna, May 17, 1885.] 

I start for Murzzuschlag (Steiermark)* in an hour, 
and, once there, hope you will not keep me waiting 
many hours for songs and opinions! — Kindest regards, 

J. Br. 

158. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig] May 21 and 22, 1885. 
Dear Friend, — I suspect your card was designed 
not only to convey a * change of address,' but to 
admonish ! I am sorry, for you evidently think I have 
kept the dear songs too long, and my conscience, 
which was clear — I considered myself justified in 
keeping them — becomes burdened. Yet I could not 
part with them, for the few moments I could devote 
to the sweet things were snatched with difficulty in 
the intervals of such pleasant occupations as packing 
* moth-boxes,' shaking carpets, preparations for re- 
moval, and all sorts of things a bachelor has no idea 
of. Certainly I enjoyed the songs all the more, and 
have fallen hopelessly in love with some of them. 
I may as well say at once that I give my unqualified 
approval to the beauty in D flat (Daumer's words) 
with the middle part in E major.! It must be one 
of the most glorious songs in the world. It is so 
ideal for the voice, so vigorous in conception [^ich 
gdbe viel^ um zu erfahren '), and so happy in the lines 
of its melody which flatter both singer and listener. 
Above all, how perfectly words and music are blended 
in their deep emotion, their lovely animation ! Such 

* Brahms's summer house. + * Wir Wandcltcn^ Op. 96, No. 2. 

SONGS 227 

loving care has been lavished on every detail, and 
each tiny variant has its calculated effect in rendering 
the particular part more impressive, as, for instance, 
the quavers introduced at ^ In memem Haupte die 
Gedanken! and the harmonies, which are changed in 
position only. It is a pleasure to see and feel it all, 
and one sings with such conviction at the end: ^ so 
wunderlieblich sei auf der Welt kein anderer HallP 
Next in order comes Meerfahrt^^ with those strangely 
affecting horn-blasts, the F sharp over the A minor 
harmony, the C sharp over the E minor farther on, 
and last of all the B natural.f They come with startling 
freshness, and must be classed among the wonders 
which, to the end of time, will be evoked in response 
to any great force demanding expression, exhausted 
as the available store of musical material often seems, 
and actually is, to the non-elect. Tell me, have you 
not a special weakness for Meerfahrt yourself? My 
attitude towards it and the D flat song is that of children 
who, when asked, * Do you like me or So-and-so best ?' 
reply, *I like you best, but I like So-and-so best too.' 
Meerfahrt has just that dignified leisure, that true soste- 
m//o character and fine breadth of outline, which you are 
so well able to command. What a reposeful, whole- 
some effect of tonality there is in spite of the originality 
of the harmonies I What an entire absence of uncertainty 
as to where one stands, or the direction in which one 
is being taken, and how beautifully the subdued 
anguish of the diminished 7th melts into the opening 
key of a minor,| while the voice takes that despairing 
F sharp for the first time§ — how piercing, how im- 
pressive it all is, and yet how restrained ! 

* Op. 96, No. 2. 
\ Bar 48 ci seq. 

t Bars 3, 29, 58. 
§ Bar 54. 



I am afraid of not saying the right thing about the 
Nightingale and the Wanderer^ for the fact is, only one 
of them meets with my entire approval — the Nightin- 
gale, which I like very much. The melody has the 
bitter-sweet of the real nightingale's song ; they seem 
to revel in augmented and diminished intervals, 
passionate little creatures that they are ! — and the 
simple tenderness of the F major part is so charming 
by contrast.* How finely the climax at * Verklungenen 
Tonen ' is prepared, and how happy the return to the 
opening motif at the words, * In deinem Leid ein leiser 
WiederhalV ! Indeed, this song, delicious as the first 
tender green of the woods, seems to me ^ gef undent 
inspired from first to last — nichts zu suchen, das war sein 
Sinfft — whereas the Wanderer has a touch of the chilly 
North ; one misses the pleasing contrast, which the 
second part fails to supply satisfactorily.:]: In any case, 
it would not come well after the Nightingale, and could 
only detract from its effect by being placed before it. 
Please suppress me if I go too far, but remember, at 
the same time, that I am but obeying your orders !§ 
And before you forget that fact, I may as well confess 
that I cannot reconcile myself to one song, and that is 
the Mond, ^ der sich leuchtend drdnget.\ Either I am 

* * Nein^ trauier Vogel, nein P 

t Quotation from Goethe's Gefufiden. 

I As a matter of fact, the Wanderer was the older of the twin 
songs, and had therefore the greater claim to being ' Gefunden.' 
Brahms may have had the Nightingale in his mind, but it was not 
written until later. 

§ Brahms eventually recast the Wanderer, and included it in 
Op. io6 much later. 

II Heine's poem * Wie der Mond sich leuchtend drdnget.'' Brahms 
suppressed the song, possibly on account of this adverse criticism, 
and gave up the idea of a series of Heine songs which he was then 

SONGS 229 

quite irresponsible and capricious in my tastes, or it 
really is not on the same musical plane with the others. 
To put it brutally, I feel as if it had only the contours 
of a Brahms piece — what is called mannerism as 
distinct from style. I don't know how to express 
myself without being guilty of impertinence, but 
neither can I be silent without feeling myself a traitor 
to your songs in general. For are they not our lode- 
star, the standard by which you measure our education, 
and have we not a right to demand the very highest of 
our master? How can we Brahmsianer sanction a 
melody like this, with its intricacies and its restless 
harmonies, after all the treasures of inspiration 
showered on us ! I really feel strongly that this song 
is not to be mentioned in the same breath with the 
others. But I revive again when I come to the B minor 
(Heine's),* with its exquisite fervour, so tender and 
pleasing in addition to its ingenuity. It is a gem indeed, 
a marvel of compactness ! One never tires of playing 
it. How unfailing, too, is the appeal of the closing 
passage (* Nehmt mit meine Trdnen tmd Seufzer') \ 

' Aiif dem Schiffe'\ is charming, with its sail-flapping 
accompaniment, and the little volkslied in E flatj is 
expressive and unaffected. But I cannot bring myself 
to like this bar : 

Voice : A[,— G— F. 






* ' Es schauen die Blumen,* Op. 96, No. 3. + Op. 97, No. 2. 

I ' Trcnnung,' Op. 97, No. 6. The key is F, not E flat. Brahms 


That is one of the wicked, false relations which are 
hardly in place in this simple little song, so engaging 
and well-behaved in other respects. Halm's * Winter- 
nachV^ makes me sad. Those dry verses never 
deserved that you should set them to music. Singing 
them makes one shiver for a fur coat I But Lady 
Judith] is something like a poem I The words are 
splendid and the music delicious. It is too short, 
though. One almost wishes you had treated it in the 
only possible way — that is, not strictly in strophes, but 
with some alteration or extension of the last verse. It is 
over so quickly, and there is so much concentration in 
the poem that one feels it all the more.J The variation 
of the accompaniment to the Wanderer strikes me as less 
happy than the original form. After singing through all 
the three several times, I can only say I think the 
Nightingale so bewitching as to justify a little self- 

In your letter you speak of ' some songs ' that you 
are sending. Are there more to come? What a 
splendid haul this was I What a pleasure you must 

transposed the song a semitone, probably to make it more effective. 
The unpleasant false relation in bar 14 is avoided as follows : 

* This song was never published. There is no Winter's Night 
among Halm's poems, but a Snowstorm, which corresponds to the 

t ' Entfiihrung,' Op. 97, No. 3, words by W. Alexis. 

% Brahms followed this advice, and lengthened the last verse by 
one bar to lend the climax additional emphasis. 


take in stringing together all these pearls that come to 
you in such quantities, all the finest and best ! 

Thank you for sending 'me the dear pile. I and my 
Heinz know no greater bliss than to dive into a new 
hoard such as this. If you could but hear our delighted 
exclamations, and see our bear-play in the form of 
vigorous pokes and pushes when we come to any- 
thing particularly fine or beautiful, you would have to 
be pleased with such evidence of your own power to 

I wish you — and ourselves — a productive and re- 
freshing summer culminating in a grand autumn 
explosion. I hear rumours of a symphony — as usual ! 
— but this time the Princess of Meiningen* is prepared 
to swear to it. I myself have visions of a string 
quartet, suggested by one of your mysterious remarks 
on a post-card. 

And I know what I should like for Christmas : the 
A minor song, Meerfahrt^ in your own writing. If 
you consider the request audacious, I take it back — 
like the Leipzigers. To-day the A minor is my only 
love ; to-morrow it will probably be the D flat 

Heinz sends very kindest regards. He would so 
like to see you in our mountains, and have you sitting 
at our table. It would be lovely in July, when we are 
by ourselves ; we expect to be inundated with relatives 
in August, and there's an end to my freedom ! Good- 
bye, and thanks once more. — Yours, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

* Princess Marie of Meiningen, 


1 59. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Leipzig, May 24, 1885.] 

* Nehmt mit unsre Seufzer und Thranen, 
Ihr Lieder schwermiitig und triib.' * 

It is not my fault that they were not sent off before 

to-day. The post-office would not take them in a 

wrapper — the way they came — and afterwards it was 

too late. Woe is me that I forgot to copy out the 

words of the Nightingale (I might have been allowed 

that much !) ; I can of course remember the music. 

We are all quite intoxicated with the A minor song. 

Inspirations of that order are none too common. Do 

please send a card to say that my little guests have 

arrived safely ! 

E. H. 

160. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[MiJRZZUscHLAG, May 28, 1885.] 

Many, many thanks for your letter, which could not 
have been kinder or more satisfactory. Moreover, it 
coincides remarkably with my own casual ideas and 
wishes, although you frequently see blue sky where 
mine is overcast. I hardly think, by the way, that 
anyone need mind speaking plainly about my things, 
given the one condition of genuine, heartfelt interest. 
For one thing, I am far from thinking my capacity for 
writing good stuff unlimited, and for another I do not 
take a provisional opinion too seriously — and, after 
all, tastes differ I 

But you have no idea of the enjoyment one can 

* An adaptation of Heine in '£s schauen die Blumen' (Brahms, 
Op. 96, No. 3). 

SONGS 233 

extract from a mere handful of songs, by reading them 
in the Hght of your descriptions. 

But to come to the point — you missed one out. I do 
really want to hear a word or two about the Rhenish 
volkslied, ^ Dort in den Weiden,'* if it has not faded from 
your memory. Or did it escape you altogether ? It 
was on the back of Lady Judith, Here it lies, peeping 
at me, and I don't know what sort of a face to make ! 

Be sure you let me know when you go to Wiesbaden. 
(Is any address necessary ?) 

With my warmest thanks and kindest regards to 

you both, yours, 


161. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

LiSELEY, June 3, 1885. 


My DEAR Friend, — Your letter was a real joy and 
consolation. It stands me in good stead that you do 
not take preliminary judgments too seriously, for that 
helped to make you indulgent with mine. Yet I confess 
it seems to me hardly right to speak of preliminary 
judgment in the case of songs, which are on a small 
enough scale to be taken in at a glance, though it 
would apply, I admit, to orchestral and chamber music. 
I am, of course, taking an intimate acquaintance with 
the composer's method for granted. I know these new 
songs, for instance, as well as I ever shall, and my 
opinion of them will be the same a year hence. In 
the same way I was able, after looking through them 
several times, to pick out my favourites among the 
latest arrivals. 

Besides, you say yourself that your own estimation 

* Op. 97, No. 4. 


of them tallies with my remarks. So I forgot to mention 
the Willow Song.^ I think I remember it, however. 
Doesn't it go like this, 


and have a fine ritornelle on the same melody, with 
this bass in quavers after the beat ? 


6 7 3 "T 




Yes, I remember — that was it ! But the song itself 
somehow failed to captivate me. I thought to myself 
how much I should like it if I did not know the other 
Brahms songs ; knowing them, I realized how spoilt 
I was ! It seemed to me you had given us much the 
same message before,! only told more prettily and 
weighing heavier in the golden scales ; while every- 
thing that charms me most in the other songs is, I 
feel, being said for the first time. A feehng of this 
sort always cripples one's receptive faculties even for 
things that are good and beautiful in themselves. For 
instance, it prejudices me against Sappho% (which is, 
I am sure, really beautiful) among the last-published 
songs. To my mind, you had expressed that very 
shade of emotion with more grandeur, more simplicity, 
once before, using similar material ; but I, true to 
my former gods, am not to be diverted from it, but 

* Weidenlied, Op. 97, No. 4. The melody is quoted correctly, but 
not the harmonies of the ritornelle. Brahms uses the dominant 
seventh on A, not the diminished seventh on A sharp, in the third b^r, 

f Cf. Kalbeck (Johannes Brahms, i. 160 ct seq.), 

J ' Sapphic Ode,' Op. 94, No. 4. 

SONGS 235 

turn with the greater fervour to the best you have 
given me. 

Over and above this I consider the little Willow 
Song unvocal, and I never like the accompaniment 
to follow the notes of the melody — it rarely fails to 
embarrass the singer. 

I have been wondering what could be done with 
Judith,* and whether you could not add a train to the 
proud lady's robe. Or do you object to making the 
last verse different on principle ?t It seems so pain- 
fully abrupt and scanty. Do think it over again, 
please ! 

The A minor song,t with its final ^trostlos^' still 
haunts me perpetually. It follows me to bed, and, 
once I begin, I have to go through with it to the 
glorious ending. 

We are very happy in our dear little house, and 
thoroughly enjoy hearing the blackbirds 

and finches. Some robins have made their nest in our 
bushes, to our great joy. After a great deal of rain, we 
have blue skies and sunshine again. If we were more 
selfish, and did not take life so seriously or forecast 
trouble, how happy we might be ! Good-bye, and thank 
you once more. You must know what it means to me 
to be allowed to write to you quite freely all that I feel. 

* Op. 97, No. 3 (see Letter 158, note). 

+ Brahms had no such objection, but frequently handled his 
poems with great freedom. 

I Meerfahrt. 

§ Frau von Herzogenberg rightly traces the motif in the Nightingale 
and the Wanderer to the blackbird's note, and not the nightingale's. 


Heinrich sends kindest regards, and suggests that, as 
you have been so kind once, you might, without fear of 
turning our heads, send us the quartet or the symphony 
or whatever 'the thing' (see Limburger!) may call 
itself before it becomes public property. 

And when are you going to pay a visit to Liseley ?* 

162. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[MuRZZUSCHLAG, June 6, 1885.] 

Please forgive my misplaced lecture. It was abso- 
lutely no reflection on your kind letter, and must have 
looked black indeed by contrast. 

All the same, taken con discrezione, strictly for general 
application, and in the friendliest possible sense, it may 
come in useful another time ! 

Can you find out, and let me know, when the Duke 
of Meiningen is expected ?t 

If you should meet a certain Frau Dr. Anna Franz 

of Vienna during the summer, I hope you will like the 

dear, kind woman. I might give her a card for you ? 

She certainly stands to gain by it. — Most sincerely 


J. Br. 

* The name given to the house Herzogenberg had built at 

t George II., Dul^e of Saxe - Meiningen and Hildburghausen 
(b. 1826), was an intelHgent patron of music and the drama. He 
married in 1873 a very musical actress, Ellen Franz, a pupil of Biilow, 
who received the title Freifrau von Heldburg. From the time of 
Billow's appointment as conductor at Meiningen in 1880, the Duke 
took a great interest in Brahms, whose frequent visits to the palace 
ended in establishing particularly friendly relations between them. 
Meiningen was the first town to erect a monument to Brahms. This 
was executed by Hildebrand a year after the composer's death in 


163. Elisahet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

LiSELEY, August 7, [1885]. 

Sir, — We do not wish to be importunate, but I 
should hke to remind you, before it is too late, that, in 
case you still have any idea of coming over, it is par- 
ticularly desirable for us that it should be soon. 
Otherwise we should have neither the pleasure of 
putting you up, nor the leisure to enjoy your vi^it. 
For from the 15th onward we are, as I told you, to be 
besieged by an army of relatives, twelve deep, and shall 
not have a moment to ourselves, still less for a friend 
with whom one does not wish to be stingy. It would 
indeed be a sore trial to have that friend close at hand 
without being able to enjoy his company. * Rather 
will I stab myself to death with a pluperfect fifth !'* 
than suffer such torture. And so we thought it would 
be very sociable and gracious of you to come for a few 
days now, with sheep and cattle for company. Later 
I expect you will be drawn to Frau Schumann's sum- 
mitjt and we should surrender you with due solemnity 
to your other real friends. Frau Franz has not put in 
an appearance, and does not, apparently, desire our 

Do me the favour of an immediate post-card an- 
nouncing your decision, which will, I hope, prove 

favourable to your faithful 


Yes, the Meiningens will certainly be gone before 
you arrive, and with them, perhaps, all that attracts 
you to Konigssee ?| 

* Quotation from Hoffmann. 

t At Vordereck, near Berchtesgaden. 

\ The Duke had a hunting-lodge on Konigssee. 


164. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[MURZZUSCHLAG, AugUSt 29, 1885.] 

My dear Friend, — I seem to miss one opportunity 
after another of visiting you. Shall I put it down to a 
languid dread of all the non-acquaintances in the train, 
and all the crowd of acquaintances in your neighbour- 
hood whom I am also due to visit ? Are you staying 
on ? and are you by yourselves again ? Might I venture 
to send you a piece of a piece of mine,* and should 
you have time to look at it, and tell me what you think 
of it? The trouble is that, on the whole, my pieces 
are nicer than myself, and need less setting to rights ! 
But cherries never get ripe for eating in these parts,t 
so do not be afraid to say if you don't like the taste. 
I am not at all eager to write a bad No. 4. 

That reminds me, when am I to see No. i ?t Must 
I wait for the reason, like the concert conductors? 

Is Astor§ not ready yet ? I have been much looking 
forward for a long time to a closer examination of this 
same No. i. — With kindest regards, yours, 

J. Brahms. 

* First movement of the fourth symphony in E minor. 

+ Brahms also considered it necessary to warn his friend Biilow 
of the acerbity of his new symphony. He says, writing about this 
time : * I have often, while writing, had a pleasing vision of rehearsing 
it [the symphony] with you in a nice leisurely way — a vision that I 
still have, although I wonder if it will ever have any other audience ! 
I rather fear it has been influenced by this climate, where the cherries 
never ripen. You would never touch them !' 

% Herzogenberg's first symphony in C minor, Op. 50, which was 
followed later by one other in B flat, Op. 70. 

§ Herzogenberg's publisher. 


165. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahns. 

LisELEY, September i, 1885. 

Dear Friend, — Yes, you may ' venture ' to send that 
piece of your piece, which — Heaven be praised ! — 
appears to be a symphony. It will make two people 
very happy. If I had no time, I would make it by 
some means ; but I really shall have time some days, 
and mean to dive deep into this proof of your kindness. 
Do please send it soon; you can imagine with what 
Christmas-y feelings we shall sit and watch for it. 
It was a real disappointment to us that you could 
not come. We had everything so beautifully ready — 
our little house, our two hearts, and some home-bottled 
wine in our own little cellar, thinking all the time you 
might drop on us any moment in person, as you did 
not write. Well, you were evidently better employed. 
No. 4 in process of construction was better company 
for you than all of us put together. Send as much 
as you have, only at once. We shall hardly stay later 
than the loth or 12th, as we want to spend a couple of 
days with my parents at Hosterwitz, after which we 
go forth to meet the great unknown — Berlin, Kurfur- 
stenstrasse 87 1 Sometimes I have qualms ; then I 
remember Heinz, and I know that as long as I have 
him I want nothing else in heaven or earth. Also I 
have an idea of learning to use the pedals there, and 
am as happy as a child at the prospect. Heinz, too, 
is decidedly looking forward to his * midnight ' boys ;* 
and as he certainly has a touch of Dr. Marianus,t he 
is sure to do well, and I shall be very happy, too. As 

* * Boys, brought forth in midnights haunted ' {Faust II., Act V., 
Scene 7). 

t Confuses * Dr. Marianus ' with ' Pater Seraphicus ' in Faust. 


for all the uglinesses connected with it, the malicious 
tongues which play so important a part in Berlin, and 
all the various cliques, we shall come to no harm 
by them, so much faith have I in our power — and 
in that of everyone whose instincts are for higher, 
better things — to keep vulgarity at a distance. 

To our very happy acquaintance, then, dear No. 4, 
and a blessing on the dear author for letting us have 
you at once ! 

Heinz will send his firstborn* as soon as little friend 
Astor is ready. We won't inflict the proof-copy, 
which is full of mistakes, on you. 

Fare you very well ! — Yours gratefully and most 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

Frau Franz called the other day ; she is charming. 

166. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[MuRZZUSCHLAG, September 4, 1885.] 

If the piece t should smile on you at all, I should 

like to ask you to pass it on to Frau Schumann — that 

is, play it to her. I hope to hear very soon. You 

will be sure to send me the thing back before you 

leave ? — Meantime, in haste, yours, 


167. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

LisELEY, September 6, p.m. [1885]. 

We lost no time in sunning ourselves in your 'smiles,' 
my dear friend. The piece arrived to-day, and I 

* The symphony. 

t The first movement of the fourth symphony in E minor ; also 
the beginning of the andante written on the last page. 


ventured to appropriate to myself the precious en- 
closure which fluttered out from between the pages, 
as I seem to remember expressing my longing for 
the two songs* in a begging letter the other day. 
You are really too good to comply with my request so 
promptly ; I never dreamed of being spoiled to such an 
extent. The symphony movement has already under- 
gone a fair amount of torture under my clumsy fingers. 
It is a characteristic piece of ill-luck that we should 
have arranged to go to Frau Schumann just to-morrow. 
We cannot put it off, for we leave on the loth, and 
have our hands full in the meantime. The piece only 
came at noon to-day, and Herr von Kaiserfeldf robbed 
me of the greater part of the short time I hoped to 
devote to it, so I shall acquit myself badly before Frau 
Schumann to-morrow, and am not sure that I shall 
have the face to strum through the little I know. If I 
had had a little more time, I should have been pleased 
and proud to play it to her; but as it is, there are 
certain passages I can hardly make out at all. Un- 
fortunately — and to Heinz's great disgust — I still have 
difficulty in reading the horn parts, and have to wrestle 
miserably with those three wicked lines in the score : 
horn in E, horn in C and trumpet in E. All the same, 

* Brahms had enclosed manuscript copies of the two songs which 
had particularly taken her fancy (Op. 96, Nos. 2 and 4). 

t Moriz V. Kaiserfeld, son of the Austrian politician and former 
Governor of the Province of Steiermark, was devoted to music, and 
a great admirer of Brahms. When Brahms was about to try over 
his new quintet in F at Ladislaus von Wagner's house at Alt-Aussee 
(August 19, 1882), it was found that no second viola-player was forth- 
coming ; whereupon Kaiserfeld, who, though a violinist, had never 
had a viola in his hand, was persuaded to undertake the part. He 
acquitted himself so well that Brahms copied into his album the 
viola theme from the first movement, with the remark : ' First viola, 
indifferent ; second viola, entirely satisfactory.' 



I have gained a fair idea of it. It goes best when I 
don't think about it, and some parts come out beauti- 
fully and fill me with joy. I know exactly how the 
whole of the first subject and the second ought to 
sound, right down to the smallest details, and will tell 
you all about my impressions as soon as I have a 
minute. But I do hate parting from it so soon, and 
flatter myself that if you knew we were leaving on the 
loth you would let me take it to Hosterwitz and send 
it back from there on the 15th, on condition of handhng 
it with the utmost care — * My plaidie to the angry airt, 
I'd shelter it, I'd shelter it !' However, it is too late to 
ask you now, and I must of course obey orders. After 
all, we have plenty to thank you for as it is. 

I must do a little more practising, so good-bye in 
haste, and a thousand blessings. I love that D minor 
in the very beginning,* and all those slurred quavers 
on the sixth pagef just before the marcato (which re- 
minds me a little of the first movement of the B flat 
major quartet).{ The pianissimo with the diminished 
7th on G sharp and the quaver-figure on the fiddles is 
exquisite, and how splendid it must sound with that 
flourish on the drum ! I hope to write again soon — 
Thanking you once more for everything, yours very 


E. H. 

168. Brahms to Heinrich von Herzogenberg, 

[MiJRZZuscHLAG, September 30, 1885.] 

I have made up my mind before leaving to send you 
the Schubert symphonies,? though without really 

* See p. 4 of the score, last bar. 

t P. 7 of the score, first and following bars. 

\ P. 8 of the score, first bar. § See Letter 149. 


knowing whether you want them I My latest attack 
was evidently a complete failure — a symphony too !* 
But I do beg your dear lady will not abuse her pretty 
talent for writing pretty letters by inventing any belated 
fibs for my benefit. 

With kindest regards and best wishes for success in 
your new surroundings, yours ever, 

J. Brahms. 

169. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms, 

Berlin W., September 31, 1885. 

The enclosed fragment, t dear Friend, was written 
one evening at Konigssee three weeks ago in the midst 
of packing, but I prudently kept it back because I felt 
I was quite unqualified to criticize the symphony after 
such a woefully brief acquaintance, recollecting a certain 
saying about women's judgments, specially apposite 
under the circumstances.^ How glad I am now that 
I did not air my half-formed impressions, for I know 
so much more about it to-day — the dear E minor 
movement — and have played it so often, in imagina- 
tion and at the piano, devoting to it practically every 
minute I could snatch from the work of moving in, that 
it has really become an old acquaintance to which many 
of the remarks I made the other day seem quite inap- 
plicable. If I send the other shred of a letter all the 

* As Brahms had not heard again from Frau von Herzogenherg, 
he concluded that her earlier remarks had only been a cloak for her 
embarrassment, and that the symphony had failed to please either 
the Herzogenbergs or Frau Schumann. 

t See the addition to this letter, dated September 8. 

X ' In their loves and hatreds there is sometimes reason ; never in 
their judgments and opinions' (Goethe). 

1 6 — 2 


same, it is with the idea that you might be interested 
in following the workings of a plain person's mind in 
chronological order. 

I can now trace the hills and valleys so clearly that 
I have lost the impression of its being a complicated 
movement;* or rather I no longer look upon the com- 
plication I read into it as detrimental to its effect in 
anyway. At worst it seems to me as if a great master 
had made an almost extravagant display of his skill ! 
I was glad to see how great an effect it could have 
when I played it to my sister at Hosterwitz. She was 
quite carried away by the general sound and character 
of the movement in spite of the inadequate perform- 
ance, and she is, I may say, a good example of the in- 
telligent but wholly uninitiated listener. She never 
noticed the points with which we were chiefly con- 
cerned — the ingenious combination of the themes, 
the massing together of separate links, but simply 
enjoyed what she heard. Well, and it is the same 
with me now that I have duly absorbed it all : it is 
all simple enjoyment, and I have a furious longing to 
hear it.f 

I expect wonders from the actual performance, as 
a whole and in detail. There is one passage particu- 
larly, at the close of the development, where the first 
subject makes its entry in semibreves, which I imagine 
must sound wonderfully fine and mysterious, not to 
speak of its amazing cleverness and delicacy. How 

* Hanslick had at first the same impression. When Brahms played 
it with Ignaz Briill on two pianos to a few of his friends in Vienna, 
Hanslick, who was present, sighed heavily after the first movement, 
and remarked : ' Really, you know, it sounds to me like two 
tremendously witty people quarrelling.' 

t P. 20 of the score, bar 5. 



splendid that C major part must be with the quaver- 
figure ! — 

Fd-# • ^ 

Then farther on the (apparent) chord of the 6th on G, 
which is merely a use of the 3rd, as a basis for the 
arabesque-like figure with its D sharp and F sharp;! 
and before that the beautiful section in the develop- 
ment, so exquisitely prepared by these bars, 







with which I fall more and more in love : 



^ ^-bJ- 









^ ^<Lj^^ 


Indeed, I am enamoured of the whole of the develop- 
ment, with its masculine terseness and intensely 
emotional character. 

The lovely second subject sounds tender and trans- 
parent, but I could wish its melodious character were 

* The first G sharp in the third bar is a slip of the pen, or a case 
of defective memory. It should be G. 

t See p. 20 of the score, bar 14. | P. 16, bar 11. 

§ P. 16, bar 15. The passage is not quoted quite accurately. 



not cut short so soon by the touch of agitation in the 
new figure : 


' ^-nr^ r w r-^^' h^ 



1 — ^w- 


The coda is no less admirable; the subject in the 
basSjt the syncopated chords, the chromatic 



working up to the powerful 





and, later on, the incisive 





7~> .. 








1 I 

' (fiAe !) 

all pressing forward to the close with such a fine 
impetus, lend the whole movement a massivity for 

* P. 10, bar 10. t p. 29, bar 4. 

I Probably p. 29, bar 17. § P. 30, bars 4 and 5. 

II P. 30, bar 12. The various inaccuracies are all due to quoting 
from memory. 


which one is hardly prepared by the lyric tendency 
of the first subject. 

But if I were to say everything I should have to 
quote from every page, and even your good nature 
might find that too great a strain. 

I was deep in my letter just now when your strange 
post-card to Heinz — written yesterday — arrived. (How 
quickly it came !) What can you possibly mean by the 
* complete failure ' of your attack ? An exciting Sunday 
afternoon spent with your symphony, a sleepless night 
and a sunny morning walk with the score in my macin- 
tosh (and — in disjointed fragments — in my heart) on 
Monday to Frau Schumann's mountain, her dear 
flushed cheeks as she listened, and my own agitation 
over the mission for which I was so inadequately 
equipped — all these form a memory as precious almost 
as any I possess, and yet you go and say those horrid 
things ! Heinrich sends word that, if he had not such 
a talkative wife, he would not forego the pleasure of 
thanking you himself for sending us the symphony- 
movement ; also he begs and implores you to send the 
continuation. He is accustomed to a wider range, and 
does not need to concentrate his attention nervously 
on the one part, like myself Consequently he allowed 
himself to fall in love with the beginning of the second 
movement, and is clamouring for more. Surely, having 
said A you might as well say B,* particularly when 
your name is Brahms ! 

I hope you will always continue your kindness to 
us, dear Friend, for it means so much, so very much, 
particularly here where we are like bleating sheep, 
straying over the bleak hillside without finding a single 

* A common German proverb, perhaps the nearest equivalent to 
' C'est le premier pas qui coute.' — Tr. 


blade of grass. It is a great consolation and resource 
to have Spitta for a neighbour; he is growing so 
broad and free in his views, and has attained that 
true liberality of intellect which is the logical develop- 
ment of the one-sidedness of a strong personality. He 
has mellowed, too, in spite of his stern attitude in 
matters concerning art, and is altogether a profitable 

I played him your two songs,* and he jumped up 
and began to sing them too, being quite at one 
with us in thinking them rare specimens. How 
glad I am to have them as a gift from you — and how 
grateful ! 

Good-bye for to-day. If I did not write sooner, you 
know me well enough to believe that it was an impos- 
sibility. There was too much work to be done. Thank 
Heaven I am strong, and able to do it ! The summer 
set me up wonderfully. Good-bye. Heinrich looks 
forward with me to the symphony. 



KoNiGSSEE, September 8, 1885. 

My very dear Friend, — We went to Vordereck 
yesterday, and I played your symphony movement 
to the dear woman as well as I could. It was much 
like a bad first reading by a scratch orchestra, but she 
very kindly assured me she had understood how you 
meant it to sound, and I felt very glad and thankful. 
Our outing took up the whole day, and to-day I have 
been rummaging, and had visitors into the bargain, 
although I managed to steal a few glances at the 

* Op. 96, Nos. 2 and 4. 


score. It is gradually growing plainer and more real 
to me, and I am always making fresh discoveries. I 
will try and tell you all my impressions, but I am 
more than ever conscious — as I told Heinz on the 
way home yesterday — of the cruel fate which robs 
our opinions of all their delicacy and bloom as soon 
as we try to formulate them, just as the butterfly will 
shake the down from his wings, to rebuke his would- 
be captors for attempting to lay hands on anything so 
transient, to confine such an emblem of freedom. Your 
piece affects me curiously : the more penetration I 
bring to bear on it, the more impenetrable it becomes ; 
the more stars define themselves in the twilight glow, 
which at first served to hide them ; the more distinct 
sources of joy do I have, some expected, some un- 
expected ; and the more plainly can I trace the great 
central driving power which gives unity to the complex 
work. One never wearies of straining eyes and ears 
to grasp all the clever turns, all the strange illumin- 
ating effects of rhythm, harmony and colour, or of 
admiring your fine chisel for its firm and delicate 
strokes. Indeed, the possibilities are so inexhaustible 
that one experiences the joys of a discoverer or a 
naturalist at every new evidence of your creative 

But this is just where a vague doubt comes creeping 
in, and 'just where ' this really is is what I cannot 
clear up to my own satisfaction, much less put it into 
intelligible language. I have the feeling that this 
work of your brain is designed too much with a view 
to microscopic inspection — just as if its beauties were 
not there for every simple music-lover to see, as if it 
were a tiny world for the wise and the initiated in 
which the common people 'that walk in darkness' could 


have but a slender portion. Many passages I only 
discovered with my e^^es, and had to confess that 
without that aid 1 should only have heard them 
through the medium of my understanding, not 
through the natural channel of the senses. Even if 
you ascribe this to the abstract nature of my know- 
ledge of the work, which must, of course, be heard to 
have all its power revealed, there is still some truth in 
it — if not, I shall be delighted to be proved mistaken. 

Yet it seems to me that, if its actual appeal proves 
simple and direct, the effect is only gained at the cost 
of all that tangled overgrowth of ingeniously inter- 
woven detail, which must be overlooked if one would 
taste and enjoy the fruit itself. It means a regular 
chase after the fragments of this subject or that ; we 
grow quite nervous indeed, and scent a trail even 
where there is none. We feel we should like to 
fold our hands and shut our eyes and be stupid for 
once, leaning on the composer to rest instead of his 
driving us so relentlessly afield. We know all the time 
that we are growing under his hands, that no one else 
has such keen vision, or can exercise our intellects so 
powerfully ; but we have followed him on other occa- 
sions when the paths were pleasant as well as steep, 
and it is of these we dream when we look forward to 
another journey. 

Don't you see, that is why the working out makes 
the strongest appeal? There one is prepared to find a 
tangle of heavy undergrowth with spirit-faces {reve- 
nants) peering through the darkness, to follow the 
tiny streams which detach themselves and then flow 
together again ; but if the beginning or the end of a 
movement is decked out with so much elaboration, it 
loses something of its potency. As an example of 



what I mean, take the third page, where the fiddles 
are given this scrappy version of the subject : 

It sounds very complicated, because the essential is 
made to appear accessory to the non-essential, the 
principal subject an accompaniment to the new figure 
introduced by the wood-wind and violas. 


We have barely become acquainted with the 
principal subject before we are expected to recognize 
it in its changed form and take in the full effect. 
There is a similar case at the close of the develop- 
ment, where the principal subject is very difficult to 
recognize in the syncopated pizzicato of the fiddles, 
because of the distracting crotchet-triplets on the 
wood-wind : 

which tempt one to repose — and oblivion If 

♦ « « ♦ « 

170. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, October 3, 1885.] 

My very best thanks. As for my post-card, please 
to remember that you were the first, the only people 

* See score, p. 5, bar 11. t P. 18, bar 10. 

X Here the letter breaks off. 


to see the symphony, and that I am far from being so 
vain as to expect praise. If I could, I would write 
more; and if I could, I would gladly send you more. 
But I am writing hard, and shall be able to try the 
thing over at leisure, and at Meiningen, very shortly. 
— With sincerest thanks, yours, j gj^ 

171. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, October 10, 1885.] 

My dear Friend, — You will now be able to say that 
gratitude has not vanished from off the face of the earth. 
At least, I know of no better way to demonstrate the 
fact than to send you this arrangement.* You will 
now be able to view the landscape at your ease — 
through smoked glasses. You will also have a chance 
of modifying your criticism very considerably ! 

The Scherzo is fairly noisy with three tympani, 
triangle and piccolo. 

I question whether you will have the patience to sit 
through the Finale, f 

I enclose a second copy, but much prefer to think 
of you both sitting at one piano to play it. 

To-morrow 1 go to Meiningen. It is possible that 
Brodsky may play my concerto there as well. 

Let me have a letter there very soon — by special 
request ! 

It is very doubtful whether I shall inflict the piece 
on anybody else after this. Certainly Btilow would 
like to begin with it at Frankfurt straight away on 

, * Brahms had arranged the symphony as a duet for two pianos. 

t The movement is in the form of a strict passacaglia, with the 
eight-bars theme varied in thirty different ways. Brahms himself 
and others to whom he had shown the movement were afraid it 
might prove too monotonous as a Finale. 


November 3rd. They choose to announce it here, too, 
at their own risk.* 

And now let me thank you again very much for 
your most kind letter, which was really essential to 
me. I am, you see, much more modest about my 
things than you imagine, t 

I should like to write more — on other topics, too — 
but have no time. Besides, I infinitely prefer a com- 
fortable chat, not on paper. I shall surely see you 
this winter in Berlin. — With kindest regards to you 

both, yours, 

J. Br. 

172. Brahms to Herzogenberg, 

[Meiningen, October, 1885.] 

Dear Friend, — Many thanks for your kind letter. 
My letter-writing pen cannot contain itself for joy at 
the beautiful example set by your wife. 

It dances across the sheet just anyhow; I can 
hardly control it sufficiently t to tell you that I grow 
more impatient every day to have my things back, one 
for playing, the other for corrections. § Sorry to 

* Dr. Richter had announced it by way of a novelty at the Vienna 

t Brahms had been feeling very subdued in consequence of the 
lukewarm reception his new and very inaccessible symphony had 
met with from his intimate friends at a private performance, and 
was prepared to put it aside altogether should it fail to please at the 
Meiningen rehearsal. 

X These two lines are written slanting across the inside of the sheet 
in the original. 

§ Brahms, whose depression had not been dispelled by the rehearsal 
of his symphony at Meiningen, was again upset by receiving no 
acknowledgment of the music he had sent Frau von Herzogenberg. 
He therefore demanded the duet back, and indulged in a little sarcasm 
about her expected letter which had never arrived. The whole of 
his letter bears evidence to his irritabihty at the time. 


trouble you to pack them up. But you have often 
said A before ; this is a supplementary B.* — Kindest 
regards. Yours, 

J. Br. 

173. Elisahet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Berlin W., October 20, 1885. 

My dear Friend, — I came home from Dresden — 
where I had been saying good-bye to the Florentine 
people! before their long absence — last night, and 
found your welcome parcel { awaiting me. Heinz had 
told me there was a delightful surprise in store, but 
without saying what it was. Imagine my delight when 
— as I could not wait until this morning — he showed me 
the piano arrangement before going to bed. * Did 
you write and thank that dear Brahms at once ?' I 
asked. * No,' he said, * for you were to have come 
home on Sunday.' And that is true; I was obliged 
to stay and help those infants, § and here we are at the 
2oth, and it will be another day before you receive any 
thanks from the Herzogenherg household, whom you 
have made happy once more. 

Heinrich has been burying himself in your manu- 
script, and gives the most fantastic account of the 
finale, which he assures me is unlike anything I have 
ever seen. He had to go straight to his classes this 
morning, but we shall both go to the piano after 
dinner and see what we can accomplish on one instru- 
ment, with good-will and unanimity of purpose. Un- 
fortunately, we bequeathed that old horror of ours to 
the Bachverein, and it will be a day or two before we 

* See Letter 169. t Her father, mother, and sister. 

I See Letter 171. § Meaning her family. 


get a new piano in. At worst I can lie down flat on 
the floor, like Mozart with the Bach cantatas,* and 
take in both parts at once. 

If the fable about ear-burning were true, you must 
have had a good deal of it while the two Herzogen- 
bergs relieved their grateful hearts by singing your 
praise, sir. We were so happy to have this proof of 
your friendship. You evidently think nothing too 
good for us ! But when shall we hear the symphony 
on an orchestra ? 

If I might, I should like to ask you to send it to 
Joachim. After all, his devotion to you is as strong 
as anyone's possibly could be, and has nothing half- 
hearted or effeminate about it. He is really one of 
the few people who have artistic conviction and taste 
in place of the multiplicity of tastes which has become 

the rule. B is, unfortunately, one of those for 

whom a novelty has much the same attraction as any 
red rag for a bull. It is practically all the same to 
him from which quarter the wind blows it — Brahms 
or Bruckner, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, or any other. 
Now I think that is dreadful. As I often say, of what 
good to be uplifted by the best things, if you are satis- 
fied with the worst the next moment ? But these 
ideas are out of date, and our convictions, which are 
of mature growth and religious intensity, are often 
dismissed as * one-sided bigotry,' while the pitying 
smile which accompanies the words may be read as 

* When Mozart was at Leipzig in 1789, he heard a performance of 
Bach's cantata Sitig unto the Lord a New Song, by the Thomaner ; 
and on learning that there was a whole collection of Bach's cantatas 
there, but no complete scores, he had the written parts brought to 
him, spread them all around him, and was not to be moved from the 
spot until he read them all through (see Rochlitz in the Allgemeine 
Musikalische Zeitung, 1799, No. 8). 


meaning: * we take a broader point of view.' It is 
enough to infuriate one sometimes. 

But I have never seen a trace of this 'breadth' (trans- 
late superficiality mixed with cowardice !) in Joachim, 
and I therefore count him among the true Brahms 
lovers, as distinct from the other distressingly numerous 
class, who merely follow a fashion without possessing a 
spark of intelligent interest. Since the Wagner set* 
took you up, there has been a serious increase in their 
numbers, as you will probably have noticed. 

I am curious to know how you will like B.'s playing 
of the concerto. We thought his various tricks, his 
exaggerated tremolo and glissando and all the methods 
he employs so lavishly to secure melting effects, 
rather more pronounced, if anything. It spoils the 
pleasure one feels one would otherwise have in such 
a genuinely gifted player. But he has always been 
worshipped at Leipzig ; no one has ventured a word 
of warning except Bernsdorf, whose censure is more 
likely to strengthen one in crime. If you could warn 
him gently, who knows what good results it might have! 

But I must stop. You w411 certainly have no time 
for reading letters at Meiningen. How I should love 
to be there at your rehearsal, which will be carried 
out in such a beautiful, serious spirit, and what would 
I not give to hear that theme in semibreves and the 
flirtation between C and Ab major !t 

Do tell me your impressions on first hearing it, the 
first movement, and whether everything comes out 
well — the return of the first subject that first time 
with the quaver accompaniment on the winds,t and 

* Refers to Fritzsch, whose paper, the Musikalisches Wochenblait, 
strongly championed Wagner. 

t Score of the E minor symphony, p. 20, bar 8. % P. 5, bar 12. 


the syncopated passage in G sharp minor (in the 
development) ;* and please tell me, too, whether the 
multiplicity of episodes is as noticeable when hearing 
as when reading it — ah, when shall I ever hear it 
myself! — and whether you are duly carried away by 
the second subject.f And are you not sorry you were 
in such haste to repent your display of emotion and 
insert those dotted crotchetsj to blot out, as far as 
possible, the fast zu ernst\ idea ? For that will always 
be one of my grievances. 

Further, let me say in all humility that the apparent 
return of the first subject (which leads one to expect 
the repetition of the first part, though you resisted the 
temptation out of consideration for Fritzsch ||) in E 
minor is, to me, very disturbing, and decidedly 
weakens the effect of the real E minor when the first 
subject really comes. Heinrich and I have quarrelled 
over it every day up to now. He invariably remarks 
when I am playing it to him, and reach that point : ' You 
are wrong there ; Brahms would never bring in E minor 
so soon.' Of course I insist that I am right, relying 
on my memory, which seldom fails me in a question 
of harmony. * I only wish it were not E minor,' I 
say; 'but it undoubtedly is.' And you know it does 
go like this, just after the half-close on F sharp : 


!•- J , fe 

* P. 18, bar 8. t P. 8, bar 5. J P. 10, bar 3. 

§ The inscription over the tenth of Schumann's Kinder szenen. 

II The Musikalisches Wochenblati had contained arguments for the 
rejection of the classical sonata movement, in particular the repetition 
of the first part. 

^ See score, p. 13, bar 5. 



after which the subject enters in full. Don't you 
think you could do an even finer modulation there, 
and bring in the E with more blissful, more powerful 
effect ? If I were a Saxon, I should now say, ' please 
consider this unsaid'; being other, however, and 
assured of your imperturbable kindness and patience, 
I will simply thank you again and yet again for every- 
thing. As soon as I know the other movements, you 
will let me whistle my delight in a neat counterpoint 
to it, I hope. 

But please write one little post-card, or else I shall 
think you are really angry for once. 

And please when do you consider we may hope to 
see you here ? As soon as you are back in Vienna I 
am going to send you some new songs of Heinz's, if I 
may. He does not want to be bothering you perpetu- 
ally, but there is one, a * Phrygian,' which pleases me 

If you think it at all the proper thing, please present 

my respects to the family — the friendly members, or 

at least the Countess, to whom I am really grateful 

for recommending me the fine Ortel treatment.* It 

has made me a champion runner! — Yours very 


E. H. 

174. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Meiningen, October 22, 1885.] 

My dear Friend, — I wish very much I could hear 
more, though it would certainly be nicer if you could 
both go comfortably to the rehearsal with me. You 

♦ Dr. Oriel's treatment was for heart disease. 


would be able to listen to the first movement with the 
utmost serenity, I am sure. 

But I hate to think of doing it anywhere else, where 
I could not have these informal, special rehearsals, but 
hurried ones instead, with the performance forced 
on me before the orchestra had a notion of the 

There will be a repetition of the symphony here on 
November ist, I expect, and at Frankfurt on the 3rd. 
Please let Frau Schumann have the music by the ist 
at latest. 

What you say about Joachim is no news to me. I 
heartily endorse it all, and he knows it. . . . 

But I have no more time, as I am due at rehearsal. 

Frau von Heldburg is not here, I am sorry to say. 
She is being nursed at Schloss Altenburg* by the 
Duke's nurse after a severe illness. But His High- 
ness is expected one of these days, and will come and 

listen. — With kindest regards, yours, 

J. Br. 

175. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Meiningen, October 24, 1885.] 

Dear Friend, — Please arrange for Frau Schumann 
to receive the music without fail on Saturday, the last 
of the month, at latest ! I don't expect to hear that the 
piano arrangement has given you much satisfaction, 
though I think you would have moments of satisfac- 
tion here. Be sure you send me the songs to Vienna, 

the * Phrygian ' included ! — Ever yours, 

J. Br. 

* A slip for Altenstein. 

17 — 2 


176. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Berlin W., October 30, 1885.] 

My very dear Friend, — The symphony leaves us 
to-day according to instructions, and, while shedding 
my parting tear, let me thank you with all my heart 
for presenting us with the piano score so promptly. 
■It means seeing it through smoked glass, of course, 
but, thank Heaven ! we know enough Brahms to be 
able to hear it in imagination. We often felt we knew 
just as well what the other movements should be like 
as the first, whose real physiognomy has been revealed 
to us. 

This new manifestation of your power has made us 
so happy, dear Friend, and we wish we had the knack 
of telling you so in a convincing way. There must 
be many privileged people who can. 

The Andante has that freshness and distinction of 
character with which only you could endow it, and 
even you have had recourse to certain locked chambers 
of your soul for the first time. How free and flowing 
it is, too ! Some people will find this a hard nut to 



but to me it is a harshness of the pleasant, bracing 
order. On the other hand, I have qualms about the 
passage near the close : 

* See score, p. 32, bar 5. 





The D sharp in conjunction with the lower D would 
not matter in itself, but the whole progression of the 
three upper parts, as against the marked repose in the 
bass, jars indescribably. Must it be, dear Friend? But 
to return. How exquisitely melodious it all is ! — the 
parting phrase of the theme in E major : 

the beautiful way in which the second subject is 
ushered in by an abridged version of itself! How 
every 'cellist, beginning with Hausmann,| to whom we 
played it yesterday, will revel in this glorious, long- 
drawn-out song breathing of summer ! And these, 
I presume, are the cherries which refuse to ripen at 
Miirzzuschlag!§ The close, too, is delicious, with its 
modulation to C, which carries one back so happily to 
the opening bars, with their tinge of the Phrygian 
mode.ll The lowered supertonic in the final cadence 
is peculiarly satisfying, and we rise from this feast 
in a quiet, happy, satisfied frame of mind, with some 
desire for an interval in which to attune ourselves for 
the irresistible rough humour of the Scherzo ; but it is 

* P. 43, bar I. t See score, p. 41, bar i. 

I Robert Haiismann (b. 1852), professor and soloist, a member of 
the Joachim quartet. 

§ Cf. Letter 164. || P. 43, bar 7. 



not long before we surrender heart and soul to its 
versatile gaiety and impetus. 

The effect when actually played must, of course, 
be very different from the effect produced on that 
necessary evil men call a piano. Those semiquaver 

J— g-H 



w W 

on the F are so playful, so frivolous almost, and yet so 
lovely as crotchets, farther on, with the syncopated 
basses t — the old made new by your great unfailing 
skill ! How cleverly ih^ piano passage 

leads up to the second subject, which savours as clearly 
of the volkslied as if some tender youth were piping it 
on his flute outside! That scale of 3rds§ (obviously 
for the wood-wind) in D minor must be droll, too ; also 
the double 3rds|| afterwards, which reduce a poor 
second-piano player to despair. The pianissimo parting 
phrase is bewitching, 


and the development just after it should be most 
effective. How beautiful the soft C sharp minor 

* P. 44, bar 6. 
§ P. 49, bar 9. 

t P. 46, bar 7. 
II P. 50, bar 2. 

I P. 49, bar I. 
T P. 51, bar II. 


passage is at the end,* when all the gay apprentices 
slouch home from work, and the peace of evening sets 
in, while the reminiscence of all this merriment becomes 
lyrical {that subject lyrical!) in D flat ;t and, most 
beautiful of all, the soft entry of the horns and 
trombones at poco meno presto !% 

And now for my one grief with respect to this 
movement : all that beauty, all that rich tenderness, 
and then the rapid — almost brutally rapid — return to 
C major ! Believe me, it is as if you had played us 
some glorious thing on the piano, and then, to ward 
off all emotion and show your natural coarseness, 
snort into your beard : * All rot, all rot, you know !' 
It hurts so, this forcible C major; it is no modulation, 
but an operation — at least, so I feel it, Heaven 
forgive me ! 

The whole coda is exquisite. I look forward to that 
pedal note§ as I do to Christmas. What an impetus 
it has, too ! — as if you had written it quite breathlessly 
or in one long-drawn breath. One positively expands 
and growls stronger while listening. 

As for the last movement, shall you mind if I 
proclaim it my favourite — at least, for the time being ? 
I am fascinated by the theme itself, and the fascination 
grows as I follow it through its various phases, first in 
the bass, then in the top part or skilfully hidden some- 
where in the middle, and — most impressive of all, 

* P. 59, bar 3. t p. 59, bar 8. 

I Frau von Herzogenberg was right in her conjecture as to the 
horns, but Brahms contented himself with bassoons for strengthening 
the harmonies. There are no trombones in the first three movements. 
They are reserved for the finale^ where they bring in the theme of 
the passacaglia with such a shattering effect, 

§ P. 70, bar 4, 


surely, for susceptible listeners — in its trombone effort 
in the golden key of E major.* As my dear Heinz 
said at once, when I came home that time : * If you are 
at all like me, you will howl over it !' and, indeed, who 
wouldn't? It is the kind of inspiration only a good 
man could have. How splendid it must sound — lucky 
trombone-players ! Didn't the people go mad over it, 
and haven't they spoiled you at Meiningen, and con- 
gratulated themselves ever so on the success of your 
latest effort ? And we had to stay at home and content 
ourselves with thinking of you. We were really models 
of virtue not to pack up and go ; but Heinrich really 
couldn't leave, and, besides, we are such penniless 
wretches with the Leipzig house — for which no tenant 
will offer — on our hands. 

You asked, the other day, whether I should have 
the patience to sit through the last movement. I can 
only say I should not mind if it were three times as 
long. Surely it must go down with an audience too, 
even if they neither understand nor are able to 
follow the passacaglia form ; for there is no laborious 
weaving of threads, but a succession of novel com- 
binations, all imbued with a vigour that must have 
an arresting, overpowering effect, and one need not 
be a musician, thank Heaven ! to come under the 

Why, there are certain passages which tug at one's 
very heart-strings — that C major, for instance : 

* Sec score, p. 90, bar 6. t Sec score, p. 102, bar 7. 


and the way it twists upwards : 

which anyone can follow ! Who can resist an emotion 
strong enough to penetrate all that skilful elaboration ! 
I call it sheer coquetry to ask if we can sit through it. 

But the chief thing is, When are we going to hear 
it ? Joachim is dying to do it. Won't you let him have 
it very soon ? He came to listen to it yesterday, and 
once before that, and shared our delight in it. I heard 
him do the F major quintet recently, and was again 
impressed by his wonderful gift of interpretation. 
The close of the slow movement, which forms a link 
with the Finale, was a revelation. I grasped its full 
significance for the first time, as the D minor hove in 
sight, nebulous as an island in the midst of a dream- 
like sea.t Heinrich and I, together with many others, 
were transfixed with wonder. But enough for to-day, 
much as I should like to let my pen run on. My poor 
old father is staying with us, and is much in need of 
my services as a secretary and as a daughter. I had 
really no time for this, and still less for the dear 
symphony, which I have not been able to learn by 
heart, unfortunately. It costs me many a pang to send 
it away to-day. 

Good-bye, dear Friend, and send a line to say whether 

we may count on hearing the symphony here before 

long. Thank you once more, and accept the sincere 

devotion of your 


* See score, p. 102, bar 7. t Op. 88, p. 34, bar 12. 


177. Herzogenherg to Johannes Brahms, 

[Berlin (?), 1884.] 
Dear, noble Benefactor, — I must come out of 
my shell while the memory of our symphony per- 
formance* yesterday is still fresh, and thank you most 
sincerely, not only for your goodness, but for the good 
symphony. I made over the second piano part to little 
Wolf,t who is so much better equipped for it than 
myself, and was able to give myself up to the uninter- 
rupted pleasure of listening. I need not begin at the 
beginning and describe all the phases of our receptivity, 
for you are so accustomed to regard my wife's utter- 
ances as studies in two-part counterpoint, to which 
I contribute the steady-going cantus firmus while she 
exercises her discretion on the eloquent, flexible contra- 
punctuin floridum. However, they are both one, and lay 
themselves once more prostrate at your feet, ready 
to lick the hand that administered the blows, since 
the effect on their morals has proved so salutary. 
The truth is, you wield a club which silences all 
criticism. I have even come to think that the very 
parts which hurt me before (primarily a result of 
thumping the piano so hard) now make a great, a very 
special appeal to me. We were so very sorry we 
could not go to the Meiningen performance, sorrier 
than we allowed ourselves to admit. But I am no 
longer a free agent, and if I were not so happy with 
it all — why it should be so I can't think— I should be 
cursing my luck. 

Well, and to whose lot is it to fall here ? Taubert, 

* On two pianos at Herzogenberg's house, 
t C. L. Wolf (c/ Letter 151). 


Kadecke, Joachim, Klindworth, or Mannstadt?* And 
to whose lot are you to fall here ? 

I must earnestly request that you do not put us off 
with a flying visit, but come and hang up the good old 
brown overcoat on its rightful peg. 

But my wife will have dwelt on all this at length, no 
doubt, and there is nothing left for me, independently, 
but to send my very kindest regards. — Yours, 


But I am forgetting your kind gift of the Schubert 
symphonies in my absorption in your own, ungrateful 
wretch that I am I They fell, however, on receptive, 
fruitful soil. I now realize that the mechanical part 
is not so very difficult if only one has ideas to work 
on. This trifling point is the crux of the whole 
question — whether we succeed in really producing 
anything or not. On the whole, I propose to cram 
myself — and my pupils — with counterpoint instead of 
turning monk ! 

178. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

Berlin, November 4, 1885. 

My very dear Friend, — I had a letter from Frau 
Schumann yesterday, from which I gather, to my 
horror, that the symphony did not reach Frankfurt 
until Sunday morning To assure you that I did not 
disobey your orders, I am writing to say that I took 
the parcel to post on Friday^ the 29th, at 4 p.m., and, 
as the Frankfurt express only leaves here at eight, 
I was surely safe in supposing it would arrive on 
Saturday ? It distresses me more than I can say to 

* The names of the various conductors in Berlin at that time. 


know that it did not arrive, and that you and Frau 
Schumann were upset in consequence. You probably 
thought it gross carelessness or neglect on my part, 
and abused me accordingly. * And that is the thanks 
I get for my kindness and generosity !' I hear you say, 
and I must admit you are justified. It shall be a 
warning to me always to leave a day's margin on 
special occasions. I should have sent off the music 
on Thursday but that Joachim and Hausmann, who 
particularly wanted to hear the symphony, were not 
able to come until that evening; and as you had written, 
' Saturday at latest in Frankfurt,' we thought there was 
no criminal risk in posting it on Friday. 

Please don't be angry any more. I am, in all 
seriousness, deeply concerned about it, and regret 
particularly that Frau Schumann had no opportunity 
of taking the symphony into her affections before the 

Just a line to set my mind at rest and give us a 
friendly thought in the midst of all these great 
occasions. Herr Grosser,! who was at Meiningen — • 
lucky man ! — gave such a glorious account of the 
concert. We were speechless with envy when he 
told us how incredibly beautiful the symphony 
sounded. It was at Rubinstein's that he told us, and 
our poor host must have listened with very different 
feelings.t We are having a little too much of his 
playing here just now, and are often driven to the 
sad necessity of quarrelling with him. There is no 

* At Frankfurt on November 3. 

+ Julius Grosser (1844- ?), bookseller and journalist, had made 
Brahms's acquaintance in Vienna. 

% Anton Rubinstein was a declared opponent of Brahms's music^ 
of which he never played a note in public, the name Brahms being 
conspicuously absent from his famous historical recitals. 


denying that he has a whole orchestra in his fingers, 
and the most exquisite richness of tone and touch; but 
he seems to care less and less what piece he is playing, 
and is letting a certain devil-may-care attitude towards 
rhythm and other trifling matters grow upon him. 
One can't help feeling sorry. 

Are the Leipzigers to be favoured with the 
symphony ? If so, we are going I And Berlin ? 

Well, you won't be angry, will you, but believe in 
my innocence ! — In haste, yours very sincerely, 

E. H. 

I may add that the post-office people assured me 
the parcel would reach Frankfurt on Saturday. 

179. Brahms to Heinrich von Herzogenherg. 

[Frankfurt-am-Main, November 5, 1885.] 

The delay of the parcel did not matter to us either 
here or at Wiesbaden, and we were decidedly more 
amused than angry. Besides, I owe you many 
thanks on another score. But to the point ! I wrote 
to Joachim yesterday, but did not know the address, 
and forgot to ask the Schumanns for it. The letter is 
accordingly addressed ' Berlin ' tout courts so Joachim 
might make inquiries if it does not arrive. There is 
nothing in the letter but a cheerful ' yes ' in reply 
to his. 

I start in an hour's time,* so must ask you to excuse 
these hasty lines. — Kindest regards from yours ever, 

J. Br. 

* To Holland, via Essen and Elberfeld, for a series of concerts in 
Amsterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. 


1 80. Elisahet von Herzogenherg to Brahms, 

Berlin, December 2, 1885. 

My dear Friend, — You will shortly receive a visit 
from Frau Pruwer, which please to take with a good 
grace. We are responsible for the invasion, and I 
will tell you how it comes about. You will probably 
have heard of little Julius Pruwer,* who is studying 
with Professor Schmittt in Vienna. He has also played 
from time to time at Bosendorfer's| and elsewhere. 
The parents are poor — he is some sort of minor 
official — and have taken the boy away from school, 
and are having him taught at home to give him more 
time for his music. This has brought them into debt, 
and they arranged this concert tour with the poor little 
chap to raise the necessary amount. The attempt has 
failed, however, for the agent who had talked the mother 
into it turned out a swindler, and refused to pay at 
the very first stage, which was Berlin. 

Frau Pruwer had a letter to Barth,§ who, together 
with Rudorff, || heard the boy play. They were quite 
amazed at his talent, and not less horrified at the 
barbarous method by which he had evidently been 
taught. The impression made was so powerful, and 

* Julius Pruwer is described in Theodor Helm's Kalender fiir die 
musikalische Welt as 'prodigy,' 'pianist,' and (1894) 'concert pianist' 
successively. He is now conductor of the Breslau Opera. 

t Hans Schmitt (b. 1835), pianist and composer, professor at the 
Vienna Conservatoire, and author of various works on teaching. 

I A concert-hall in Vienna, belonging to the piano-manufacturer 
Ludwig Bosendorfer. 

§ Heinrich Earth (b. 1847), pupil of Biilow, Bronsart, and Tausig, 
a professor at the Hochschule, Berlin. 

il Ernst Rudorff (b. 1840), composer, conductor of the Stern 
Choral Society, and professor at the Hochschule. 


Rudorff s warm heart was so strongly affected, that he 
had but the one thought — to take the child away from its 
surroundings and its teacher. His idea was to interest 
people here, and have the child properly looked after 
until it was ready for instruction in the (musically) good 
and the beautiful, etc., etc. When he came to us, quite 
full of his plans, and asked us to hear the child too, 
his youthful enthusiasm quite put us to shame, for we 
immediately raised an army of objections to damp his 
ardour. We insisted particularly that, always sup- 
posing there were no reliable master in Vienna, it was 
a great risk to take a child away from its surroundings 
and set it down to wait until it should be ready to 
profit by one's teaching; also that general education 
was of more importance than musical instruction, and 
other wise axioms. The next day the little fellow 
came and played — abominably, but with every evidence 
of great talent. He transposed the C sharp major 
fugue* into G, or any key required, and, further, 
played some incredibly neat modulations when I w^as 
alone with him, and understood at once what I meant 
by an interrupted cadence when I dictated it to him 
by mistake. In short, it is very evident to us all that 
it is the real thing. 

Heinrich and I are more sceptical, in so far that we 
believe that a talent for music does not necessarily 
presuppose an artistic nature, and that talents as 
remarkable have been known to lead to nothing. We 
are therefore doubtful whether it is worth the risk 
of transplanting the child into foreign soil, thereby 
raising the greatest expectations on the parents' part, 
and fanning the child's ambition. In any case we 
think it most desirable that the child should be placed 
* From the Wohliemperirtes Klavier. 


in conscientious hands. So far it can hardly be said 
to have had instruction, but a breaking-in at most. 
The poor little wretch takes three fingers to any note 
he wants to emphasize sharply, and even uses his fist 
on occasion. His wrists are stiff, touch and position 
all wrong, and his phrasing bears evidence of the 
half-civilized method which aims at effect at any price. 
Consequently, in spite of the little performer's childish 
personality, it is like listening to a wizened old man, 
which is pitiful. One cannot, being human and a 
musician, listen to him without a lively desire to see 
the dear gifted child given a healthier existence. Our 
advice was, first of all to send the child back to school 
and make music a casual secondary study, partly for 
the child's health, and partly to limit the teacher's 
influence as far as possible in case no change should 
be practicable. Later on let the boy have a better 
master at all costs, the best possible indeed ; and this 
is where you come in, dear Friend, for everyone knows 
you have a tender spot for children. 

You can best tell us who would be the safest person 
to take him in charge ; and as you have had greater 
experience than any of us, you will be able to judge 
whether it is dangerous to leave him with Schmitt for 
the present, if the bond between teacher and pupil 
were loosened by curtailing the lessons, etc., for which 
a pretext could easily be found. You will also be 
the most reliable judge of the child's musical calibre, 
and be able to advise accordingly, and you alone 
are cognizant of the facilities Vienna offers. Does 
Epstein do as much now, and is the musical atmo- 
sphere there such as to make it desirable to remove 
the boy from Vienna later on and bring him here ? 
The mother was very sensible about it, so much so 


that I believe she would be just as easily convinced if 
anyone were seriously to advise her to the contrary. 
We — Heinz and I — think the child looks Jewish ; a 
Pole he certainly is. I wish he were German, for the 
strain is so much purer, after all. We congratulated 
ourselves on that fact the other day at Rubinstein's 
Russian winding-up concert. It was all salon music, 
more or less peppered with Nihilists' dynamite, and 
nothing behind it. 

Don't be impatient with this letter, my dear Friend. 
Most 'great men' are, let me inform you, so selfish 
that they refuse to be molested or worried with other 
people's affairs. One loves a child for its own sake ; 
but when it is a question of musical talent too, it has 
a claim on our consideration even at the cost of some 
inconvenience. Serious aims and high ideals are, alas ! 
all too scarce in these days ; there would be some 
satisfaction in setting them before anyone so young 
and malleable, and educating him to that end. 

And how is our symphony, and when will your 
wanderings bring you to Berlin ? And do you, in 
the midst of your conquests, sometimes think of your 
ver^ faithful old friends? 

181. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December 5, 1885.] 

My dear Friend, — Your little protege shall be very 
welcome, though I confess prodigies only interest me 
in so far as I find their performances entertaining. I 
have too often seen them do the most incredible things 
— and it has all ended in smoke ! 

But who would raise a finger for any youth in- 
capable of inspiring the conviction in himself and 



all his friends that he is capable of rising to any 
heights ! 

Is it possible that I never thanked you for the 
symphony?* If so, it is because I wanted to say 
more than just 'thank you,' and I have not your 
pretty talent in that direction. But I can assure 
you that no one could bury himself in it with more 
pleasure or be better able to appreciate and admire 
all that is good and beautiful in it. How delightful 
and nice it would be if I could have Heinz here all 
to myself, and could tell him all I think while it is 
fresh in my mind ! 

But as the piece is, above all, so complicated, I find 
it impossible to go over it in detail just now. 

I do think it a great pity (this will make you very 
angry !) that Heinz should have put such a strain on 
his audiences in this first symphony. The string trios 
and quartets had made me hope for better things in 
that respect. Let us hope it will soon be followed by 
a second, less calculated to inspire such predominating 
respect in an audience. 

I am sorely tempted to begin at the first bar and 
chatter to my heart's content. I always feel that I 
have a sort of claim on anything that interests me so 
keenly, and may be allowed to take it with me on my 
walks and think over its possibilities of development. 

I have found Rubinstein quite endurable since the 
Schumann recital here. Have you heard of his latest 
achievement ? He has been giving his fourteen re- 
citals,t two at a time, in Moscow and St. Petersburg 

* Brahms had taken ' our ' symphony (see end of previous letter) 
to mean Herzogenberg's. 

+ The famous historical recitals, comprising piano music of all 
periods in chronological order. 


alternately, which means doing the sixteen hours' 

journey in between fourteen times ! 

I found a whole stack of letters here when I arrived. 

I am simply addressing Joachim's to the Hochschitle. — 

Yours very sincerely, 

J. Brahms. 

182. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg, 

[Vienna, January i, 1886.] 

My thoughts are much with you and the dear one 
you have lost.* Our meetings have been brief and 
rare of late years, but each parting left me with the 
wish to see him oftener and at greater leisure. 

With very kindest regards, yours, 

J. Brahms. 

183. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Berlin, February 3, 1886. 

My very dear Friend, — I wanted to write yesterday 
to tell you what a heavenly evening we had the day 
before,t but was prevented. 

The philharmonic orchestra is good, as you know, 
but their playing of the symphony was not good, but 
simply perfection. Joachim had done wonders at the 
rehearsals. It was a pleasure to see his good-will 
and enthusiasm ; nothing escaped him, no detail was 

* Her father, who died suddenly on December 29. This brief 
expression of sympathy was written on a post-card, which is a proof 
of Brahms's indifference to convention. 

t Joachim conducted the E minor symphony on February i at the 
Philharmonic concert, and deemed it wise to call the last movement 
Variations^ the theme of the passacaglia being printed on the 



beneath his attention. He would take up his fiddle 
and show them exactly what was wanted ; and 
although the rehearsals ran to a cruel length, he 
knew how to coax his men to renewed effort and 
curb their impatience. We felt it growing clearer 
and more transparent ; each beautiful passage shone 
out more dazzlingly as we listened. I wish you could 
have been there, and seen our faces, and enjoyed it all 
with us. My mind, which has been fettered for so 
long, shook itself free at last. Music has appealed 
only to my physical side, as it were, all this time ; 
nothing interested me sufficiently to distract me from 
my grief or to vibrate to it and bring me consolation. 
But this carried me out of myself, and I realized the 
inestimable benefit one may receive from great im- 
pressions and the liberating power of the manifesta- 
tion of beauty. You see I owe you very special 
thanks for bringing my soul this relief. 

Yet there were moments in between when I sighed 
painfully to think that my dear father was past hearing 
it all. He was so peculiarly receptive to your music 
We hardly ever met without his asking me for Feldein- 
samkeit^ Dber die Heide hallet mein Schritt,^ and various 
other things. You would have had some pleasure 
yourself in seeing him turn young as he listened, 
the dear old man ! But your wonderful symphony 
was to be my theme, not this. The effect was over- 
powering^ beyond all we had imagined, though we were 
prepared for something very beautiful. I was moved 
to tears — happy tears — by the Andante. The way 
that E is held on after the first powerful quasi-Phrygian 
summons, and the soft entry of the G sharp, and finally 
the lovely E major itself, sounding like an organ in the 

* Songs from Op. 86. 


distance* — I know of no other orchestral effect to 
compare with it. It is one of the most affecting things 
1 know, and, indeed, I should chose this movement for 
my companion through life and in death. It is all 
melody from first to last, increasing in beauty as one 
presses forward ; it is a walk through exquisite scenery 
at sunset, when the colours deepen and the crimson 
glows to purple. We exchanged glances at the return 
of the second subject in E major,t and our hearts 
thanked you. How healthy it all is, too ! Its pathos 
comes from a pure source, and is inspiring in the best 
sense — never excessive or ecstatic, as is the present 
tendency. One can listen with a good conscience, 
that is, and submit vohmtarily to the magician's spell. 
The two pulsations on BJ for the drum at the end are 
deliciously thrilling, and, indeed, the whole passage 

based on pv^ ^ff — g — is so exquisite that one ends by 

withdrawing the objection to = ^ft^— * S— §, since it 

comes from yon^ and the rest of you is so nice ! The 
Scherzo is one string of surprises. Who can describe 
the effect of it all, its purely orchestral origin ! Such 

passages as 

But I really must not bore you with my everlasting 
examples. It all comes from wanting to add conviction 
to my assertions that nothing is lost upon us, but that 
we take it all in with delight. We shall be able to tell 
you everything better at Leipzig — where I hope we 
are to meet on the i8th? — the beloved score in hand. 

* See score, p. 32, bar 3. t P. 41, bar 2. \ P. 42, bar 7. 

§ Referring to the powerful dissonance referred to in Letter 176 
(p. 43, bar I). 


Joachim was so kind as to leave it with me for a couple 
of hours, having first extracted a solemn promise from 
me ; but it was just dinner-time, and I had only time 
to play the second movement through to Johannes 
Rontgen and Thomson* before taking it back, which 
was worse than nothing. When shall we have a 
chance of seeing it, and is there no possibility of 
reclaiming the two-piano arrangement which the lucky 
Frankfurters have had for so long ? Barth is so keen 
on studying it with me. 

Speaking of Barth reminds me of Bargiel,t who was 
quite carried away by your symphony. He completely 
thawed, or perhaps the iron band about his heart split 
in two like Iron Heinrich's. He almost embraced 
Joachim after the symphony — and, indeed, the man 
deserved embracing ! I was sorry I had not the 
courage for that sort of thing, for he was so splendid 
in his sacred ardour, so happily and devoutly absorbed 
in your music. Both he and his orchestra were roused 
to the highest pitch of excitement in the last movement, 
and really there was not a single mishap, not a moment 
when the effect was unfavourable ; nothing in the 
whole symphony went wrong — a rare achievement 
in the case of a new work ! The trombones played 
their E major variation superbly, and the flute its 
lovely monologue likewise.! Above all, the perform- 
ance brought out clearly the unity, which is the most 
admirable thing about this movement, making of the 
whole one stately progress, a finale in which the * varia- 

* Cdsar Thomson (b. 1B57), violinist, conductor, and professor at 
the Conservatoires of Liittich and Brussels, 

t Woldemar Bargiel (1828-1897), composer, stepbrother of Frau 

% See score, pp. 90 and 88. 


tions' assume their due proportions as hills and hollows 
in the vast picture. And Herr Gumprecht* thinks 
it instructive, a scholastic experiment ! Why, it is 
just the opposite ! 

Well, are you really coming to Leipzig on Febru- 
ary 1 8th ? May we look forward to it ? Heinz will be 
able to get one or two days' leave. 

Good-bye. The said dear Heinz sends kindest 
remembrances. He is writing such nice things just 
now, and is very happy. Kindest remembrances also 
from Johanna.! I suppose our telegram never reached 
you. I only heard yesterday from Joachim that you 
were at Cologne.f Please send me a line, and you 
might take a whole sheet of paper this time, even if 
you can't fill it. I only want to know if you are really 
coming to Leipzig on the i8th, and if you still like us a 
little. I sometimes fear you may lose the art, now 
that we so seldom meet and you have so many friends. 
But we must keep your friendship ; we need it so, and 
you well know our feelings towards you now and 

Remember us to Wiillner. Can't you cure him of 
Bruckner, who has become as much of an epidemic 
as diphtheria. 

Fritzsch's paper§ has really become impossible. If 
I were you, I should refuse to be praised by him any 

And now really good-bye. Johanna says : * Say 

* Otto Gumprecht (1823-1900), music critic of the Nationalzeitung, 
known as the ' Berlin Hanshck.' 

t Frau Rontgen. 

X Brahms conducted his E minor symphony, the Song of Destiny, 
and played his D minor concerto, at a Giirzenich concert on 
February 9. 

§ The Musikalisches Wochenblatt. 


something nice to him from me.' She is really one 
of the faithful. 
Just a little line, then, to your faithfullest 

E. Herzogenberg. 

184. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Cologne, February 7, 1886.] 

My dear Friend, — The general confusion here makes 
it impossible for me to do anything but send my best 
thanks for your kind letter and your most kind inten- 
tion of coming to Leipzig. I have still to get in a 
quartet this morning. Then comes a big dinner-party, 
afterwards a grand celebration at the conservatoire 
with quantities of music, and another in the evening 
at the Mdnnergesangverein ! 

Can you expect more than a cheery auf Wiedersehen ? 
— Very sincerely yours, j gj^ 

185. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, February 24, 1886.] 

My dear Friend, — Do tell me whether you have 
anything in Beethoven's handwriting.* If not, I will 
enclose a slip (by way of interest) when I return your 
Schuberts. I wanted particularly to tell you, too, that 
Frau Grafin Wickenburgf is selling her Schuberts! 
So far as I know, she has only some overtures as duets 
and a few transposed Mullerlieder besides the trio in 
E flat. — With kindest regards, yours, 


* Brahms's collection of autographs included nearly thirty loose 
pages and the sketch-book to the sonata, Op. 106, in Beethoven's 
own hand. 

t Grafin Wilhelmine von Wickenburg-Almasy (b. 1845), poetess. 


I S6. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, February 26, 1886, 

My very dear Friend, — I really needed your kind 
post-card, for I came back from Leipzig* in a fit of the 
dumps in spite of all the E minor glamour. The scant}'' 
rations on which I had to exist quite failed to satisfy 
me after the good old times, and I felt as if I had been 
deposed from a very pleasant post. O Humboldt- 
strasse ! O Zeitzerstrasse, even ! How shady were 
thy branches !t It was too depressing to be jostled 
about as a visitor in the grimy town with never a 
claim on the dear person at HaufTe's Hotel — no pos- 
sibility of looking after him at home, or making his 
coffee, or having him all to one's self for a cosy chat. 
I felt too lost even to enjoy that precious dinner-hour 
at the Wachs' with you as I should have liked. Worst 
of all, I never seemed able to get near you with my 
enthusiasm for the E minor, when on other occa- 
sions I have always succeeded, after much perse- 
verance, in penetrating your defences, and bringing 
home to you little by little all I felt. I admit that in 
this case you knew it all — for have I not written it 
more than once ? — but it is a satisfaction to say it, and 
to thank you by word of mouth and a grip of the hand 
as you deserve. But with you one must watch one's 
opportunity, and then attack boldly ; there is no taking 
you on the wing, least of all for a bungler like me. 
You know I am very much in earnest about it, and I 

* Brahms conducted his E minor symphony at the Gewandhaus 
on February 18. Brodsky played the violin concerto at the same 

t ' O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie griin sind deine Blatter ' 
(popular song). — Tr. 


wish I could have thanked you worthily for enriching 
our lives as you have done by producing this latest 
work. However, I will set it down here instead, and 
like to imagine you will read it with one of your 
kindest smiles and be happy to think of our happiness. 

You took all that about Schubert too seriously. Do 
consider how it flattered the little school-girl I was 
then to possess anything you should think it worth 
while to steal ! Had I been able to give you it (as 
I did actually give you Anselmo)* it would have been 
better still. But I do beg you will not send it back 
now, for I should really be hurt. Won't you send me 
a nice Brahms manuscript instead ? You see I am 
ready as ever to take all I can get — and why not ? 
You have already given me so much that I have 
exhausted my blushes. I am a veritable marmot : the 
more you heap upon me the happier I am. But there 
shall be no reason to complain of my ingratitude. 
How should a waif like myself possess a Beethoven 
manuscript ! But ought I really to accept it, and do 
you know of nothing that I could give you beside 
my boundless admiration, which leaves you so in- 
different ? 

I am not surprised to hear that the Wickenburgs 
are selling their Schuberts, for this generation knows 
no piety, no scruples. Have not the Orsinis sold 
Benvenuto Cellini's own doorkey, and are there any 
treasures still in the hands of their original owners ? 
But the Wickenburgs have, after all, no particular 
musical traditions, and I shouldn't mind if only they 
had given them away. Perhaps their circumstances 
did not admit of that ; people with children never can 
do anything nice and unpractical. That is the one 
* The manuscript of Schubert's song Am Grabe Ansclmos. 


thing that makes us almost glad we have none some- 
times, for we can at least be unpractical to our hearts' 
desire — and are ! 

Yesterday at Joachim's I begged for my favourite 
little bit out of the concerto : 


which B. does not come anywhere near playing ! He 
played it fairly well as long as you were there and 
could tell him, but he is not a refined player, for all 
poor Fritzsch declares him to be * absolutely the most 
congenial interpreter ' of your concerto. It always 
makes me furious to hear facts so grossly misrepre- 
sented, just as it does to watch the growing Bruckner 
craze, and I admire you for keeping a cool head. It 
is a wonder you do not descend on these people like 
a St. George, and storm at them. We played Joachim 
a page or two of Bruckner's E major — by request — but 
soon had to stop out of compassion. To show you 
how firmly the disease has taken hold, a young musician 
from Vienna who is studying with Spitta was com- 
plaining bitterly to him the other day of the injustice 
of the world's judgment in making Brahms a little 
god while he was still young, while Bruckner's great 
genius received no recognition even in his old age ! 
And he is in other respects very nice and a keen 

I am telling you this in the hope of arousing a little 
holy indignation. 

Farewell, dear, dear Friend. When summer comes — 
summer ! — please remember that we have a little house, 

* See score of violin concerto, p. 60, bar 3. 


and that we should like to be allowed to make a little 
fuss of you, if only you would let us. 

Heinrich's love. He sat behind me at the Gewand- 
haus concert, and I turned round so much at all the 
very particular passages that people must have thought 
us crazy. We happened to be sitting in the most 
' correct ' corner, where it is bad form to show any 
interest. At the opening of the new Gewandhaus last 
year, a Leipzig girl, one of your great admirers, over- 
heard another girl say, 'You really enjoy music twice 
as much decolletee V 

With this choice piece of folly I will close, for I could 
hardly improve on it. 

Think kindly now and always of your old 


187. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg, 

[Vienna, February 28, 1886.] 

Your anecdote is charming, and I shall, as usual, go 
on telling it until it becomes quite stale. You will 
have to accept the manuscripts* as my gift now, for 
they certainly are mine to give. Anselmo figures in 
my catalogue as your present, January 'yy ! But you 
know I have a fair assortment. Don't fall a victim to 
the collecting mania, but take an innocent delight in 
odd specimens, as I do. — With kindest regards, yours, 


I go to Frankfurt, and the manuscripts to Berlin, 
this very day. 

* The Schubert and Beethoven manuscripts {cf. Letter 186). 


188. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, March 12, 1886. 

My very dear Friend, — All this time I have never 
thanked you for the Beethoven, and yet it was as if I 
had come into some property. You must certainly 
like me a little to part with such a treasure, and that 
is what delights me most. 

Heini thinks it must be a copy of some old piece — 
but which ? 

It is all the same to me what it is, for it is un- 
doubtedly genuine, and therefore sacred. I am so 
glad it came to me through you ; it is a double 
pleasure to receive very special things from very 
special people. 

But I can neither appreciate nor enjoy the Schubert 
manuscripts.* How shall I look this restored gift- 
horse in the mouth ! I said I did not want the 
Ldndler back, and particularly the Anselmo, which I 
presented to you deliberately and with great pride 
that time. You evidently lack that sixth sense of 
consideration for lesser mortals and their pardonable 
sensitiveness ! I shall simply pester you — I put it 
fairly plainly the other day — into giving me one of 
your own manuscripts in exchange. You might really 
give me this gratification, for I am so happy and proud 
to possess any sheet, any tiniest scrap, of your writing. 
I will keep these, but merely as securities, until you do. 

You will soon be going to Dresden. t How bliss- 
fully happy my dear old brother will be to hear the 

* Besides the song Am Grabe Anselmos, Frau von Herzogenberg 
had presented to Brahms a set of Schubert's L'dndlcrs. 

f Brahms conducted his E minor symphony in Dresden on 
March 10. 


symphony and to see you ! If we only could, we 
would run over, too, and sun ourselves a little in your 
presence ! 

Where shall you be at Whitsuntide ? 

They are doing your symphony at the Singakademie 
to-day, but I have to stay miserably at home because 
of my cough, after counting on it for months. Heinz 
came back from the rehearsal in bad spirits, by the 
way. . . . 

Good-bye, dear, perfect Friend. It is good to feel 
you are there !-Your devoted Herzogenbergs. 

189. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, October, 1886.] 

My dear Friend, — I think you and Joachim will 
derive considerable pleasure and interest from the 

It is an exact compilation of the printed score and 
the original concept of Schumann's D minor symphony, 
modestly and, I think, unjustly described by the com- 
poser in his introduction as a rough sketch. You are, 
of course, familiar with the state of affairs, which is 
quite simple. 

Schumann was so upset by a first rehearsal, which 
went off badly, that he subsequently instrumentated 
the symphony afresh at Dusseldorf, where he was 
used to a, bad and incomplete orchestra. 

The original scoring has always delighted me. It 
is a real pleasure to see anything so bright and 
spontaneous expressed with corresponding ease and 
grace. It reminds me (without comparing it in other 
respects) of Mozart's G minor, the score of which I 
also possess. Everything is so absolutely natural 


that you cannot imagine it different; there are no 
harsh colours, no forced effects, and so on. On the 
other hand, you will no doubt agree that one's enjoy- 
ment of the revised form is not unmixed ; eye and ear 
seem to contradict each other. 

I cannot resist pointing out pp. 20 (horns), 25, 30 ; 
128-9 (violins and double basses); 141-2 (ist and 
2nd violins) ; 148-9, 163-4, although it is quite super- 
fluous, for you will enjoy every page. 

Had the Meiningen quartet been more reliable, I 
should have tried it there long ago. How is Joachim 
off for strings ? 

Now comes the question whether you agree with 
me that the original score should be published ? Will 
you, in that case, see to it ? But please return this 
copy as soon as possible, as it is not mine. 

I can only thank you very briefly for the parcel you 
so kindly sent — I should have to cut a new quill to do 
it adequately — but I am expecting Hausmann any 
minute, and am looking forward particularly to many 
parts of the Finale,* although I may want to omit the 
first two pages ! 

Kindest regards to you both, and let me hear from 
you now and then. — Yours, j gj^ 

190. Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Berlix, Kurfurstenstrasse 87, 
October 26, 1886. 

My very dear Friend, — We were delighted to have 
your parcel and letter. I have learnt so much from 
the two versions,! both on general lines and in detail, 

* Probably the Finale of Herzogenberg's 'cello sonata, Op. 52, 
which is dedicated to Hausmann. 
t The Schumann symphony (c/. Letter 189). 


and am so glad I have you to thank. Joachim would 
very much like to hear the earlier one. May we have 
the parts copied, and how long can you spare the 
score ? 

But perhaps the owner of the score has also pro- 
vided copies of the parts, or would do so ? 

Hausmann, dear fellow, came back from Vienna in 
a just-after-confirmation frame of mind. You must 
have shown him some beautiful things. He raves 
most about the whole of the 'cello sonata* and an 
Intermezzo in the violin sonata.t He is coming here 
this evening, and will have much more to tell us. 

I can't make out from your letter what it is you 
don't like about the introduction to the variations in 
my sonata, and I should so like to know. Meanwhile 
you have my formal permission to consider it non- 
existent. To you, anything one of us writes can only 
be well-meant feebleness, so why trouble about a few 
bars more or less if only you are inclined to be nice 
about the remainder ! 

Please send a line to say whether we are to copy 
the score or send it straight back. 

You might really pass through Berlin, or come to 
stay, in the flesh, this winter. You could then hear 
the D minorj played by our good little school 
orchestra or the Philharmonic, and we could have a 
few days together. 

All kindest messages from myself and my wife. — 
Yours ever, Herzogenberg. 

* Brahms's sonata for violoncello in F, Op. 99. 

t Sonata for violin and piano in A, Op. 100, composed at Thun in 
the summer of 1886, as also the 'cello sonata. By Intermezzo the 
Andante is probably meant. 

I The Schumann symphony. 


191. Brahms to Heinrich von Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, October 28, 1886.] 

Very well, have the parts copied ! I will see Herr 

Mandyczewski,* whose diligence is responsible for 

the compilation, about it. It would be very nice to 

hear it properly played. — Sincerely yours, 

J. Br. 

192. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, December 2, i886.t 

.... And now to change the subject, dear Makart,{ 
let me thank you for the dear, beautiful sonata, which 
I am most anxious to study thoroughly. It is far 
from satisfactory to shuffle through it twice with 
Hausmann, for while it is still so new the excitement 
of listening is so great that one fails to take it in. It 
is impossible to settle down to serious enjoyment of 
a novelty of this order, because of the ferment, the 
tumult of emotion, glorious in themselves, which in- 
evitably possess one. So far I have beenjnost thrilled 
by the first movement. It is so masterly in its com- 

* Professor Dr. Eusebius Mandyczewski (b. 1857), composer, 
writer, editor of Schubert's works, librarian of the Vienna GeselU 
schaft der Musikfreunde^ was, during the last ten years of Brahms's 
life, his untiring amanuensis and most faithful musical adviser. 

t Frau von Herzogenberg's correspondence with Brahms had 
ceased abruptly in March, 1886, on account of a report spread by 
some busybody, which afterwards proved to be quite unfounded. 
Brahms either ignored the fact or pretended to do so. He sent her 
the 'cello sonata, however, unaccompanied by any sort of message. 

\ The painter Hans Makart, who was famous for his taciturnity, 
was once at a dinner-party, when his neighbour, Josephine Gallmeyer, 
after one of his long silences, turned on him with, * And now let us 
change the subject, dear Herr Makart.' 



pression, so torrent-like in its progress, so terse in the 
development, while the extension of the first subject 
on its return comes as the greatest surprise. I don't 
need to tell you how we enjoyed the soft, melodious 
Adagio, particularly the exquisite return to F sharp 
major, which sounds so beautiful. I should like to 
hear you play the essentially vigorous Scherzo — 
indeed I always hear you snorting and puffing away 
at it* — for no one else will ever play it just to my 
mind. It must be agitated without being hurried, 
legato in spite of its unrest and impetus. I wish I 
were able to practise it, and really master the last 
movement too, with its quasi-lyrical theme, which 
seems to me almost too violent a contrast to the 
* grand ' style of the others. But, as I said, I want to 
hear it again and learn how to play it. 

I have not seen Hausmann since his return, unfor- 
tunately, but I shall no doubt hear when he expects 
to receive the sonata. And what about the violin 
sonata ? Why doesn't it come ? Have you really so 
many acquaintances left in Vienna who have not heard 
it, that you cannot spare it for a few days ? And don't 
you rather want Joachim to have it soon ? And do 
you never think how he must secretly long for it ? 
I say nothing of my own craving, which is second 
to nobody's, but how can you keep him, Joachim, 
waiting so long when surely he has first claim to 
it ? It is really rather cruel, and I think you ought 
to find a large envelope with all speed and send it 

I will now confess, with your permission, that I 

* Brahms often accompanied his playing by uncouth noises, which 
were sometimes so loud as to be audible to a concert audience. 

SONGS 291 

made copies of both the Spies contralto songs,* and 
am much attached to them, although, with my usual 
effrontery, I am anxious to voice two objections. Do 
you really like all those chords of the six-four in 
succession in the C sharp minor song,t particularly 
in the second verse — G major, B flat and D flat, one 
after the other, and all second inversions ? You 
surely never wrote anything of the kind before ? I 
know of no other passages to equal it for harshness in 
the whole of your music, and flatter myself you will 
find some other means of expressing the passionate 
yearning of the poem at that point. It is quite clear 
what impression you wish to give, but the actual 
result is so much less beautiful than Brahms usually 
is that it positively gave me pain. It is such a pity 
to spoil a soft, dreamy song wdth these sudden shocks. 
I love the warm flow of melody in the A major, with 
its abstract text, J and sing it with the greatest pleasure. 
But in this, too, the final cadence will not seem right. 
I have played it over and over until I got used to it 
Sind felt it as A major, but at first I never could work 
myself up to it. The A always seemed more like the 
dominant of D. Have you any more songs in your 
drawer, I wonder ? Should you not like to wrap up 
one of them in some of the Strauss waltzes which you 

* Brahms had not given H ermine Spies permission to sing in 
public the two songs, composed at Thun in the summer of 1886, of 
which he had sent her copies — Wie Mclodicn zieht es and Immer 
leiser wird mein Schlummer (Op. 105, Nos. i and 2) — but Frau von 
Herzogenberg had been allowed to see them (c/. H ermine Spies, 
Ein Gedenkbuch, p. 303). 

t Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer. 

% The words of the song Wie Melodien zieht es are by Klaus 
Groth. Brahms often succeeded in setting an abstract poem to a 
charming melody. Another example is Riickert's Mil vierzig Jahren, 
Op. 94, No. I. 

19 — 2 


always have at hand for the purpose, as in the good 
old times ? Come, do spoil me again a little ; you 
know how happy it makes me. 

Good-bye, dear, dear Friend. I should like to send 
you something — a few of Heini's latest a capella 
choruses, which seem to me particularly good. But 
should you really care to see them ? 

Please spare me a kind word and a quiet thought, 
such as I have so often coveted during this long, long 

As of old, your devoted 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

How did Spies sing in Vienna ? I can't help feeling 
strongly that she is not developing at all. When I 
think of Frau Joachim* and the way her voice grew 
steadily fuller, it seems to me that concert work and 
tearing about is, on the contrary, making this one more 
casual. She sings so many things as if she were 
reading at sight, and I do so wish someone like you 
would warn her, nice and — at bottom — serious girl 
that she is. I have never seen enough of her to 
venture ; for she gets terribly spoilt, and understands 
no hints. It would have to be put very plainly.f 

* Amalie Joachim {nSc Schneeweiss, 1839-1899), whose professional 
name before she married was Amalie Weiss, was a contralto engaged 
at the Hanover Hofoper from 1862. She subsequently became famous 
as a Liedersdngcrin, and was unrivalled in her interpretation of 
Schumann's songs. In 1863 she married Joachim. They went to 
live in Berlin in 1866, but separated in 1882. — Tr. 

j- Brahms had forestalled this request, in a letter to H ermine Spies 
on November 4, by writing, half in jest, ' I actually dreamt that I 
heard you skip half a bar's rest, and sing a crotchet instead of a 
quaver,' to which the singer repUed, * It is very kind of you only to 
dream that I am unmusical. I have not only dreamt it, but known 
it for ages.' 


193. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Buda-Pesth, December 22, 1886.] 

My very dear Friend, — I have been a long time 
v^riting to tell you how pleased I was to have your 
kind letter, and how unwillingly I have dispensed 
with your correspondence all this time. But as I am 
so sadly behindhand again, and as you express some 
desire to see some of my things again, let us come 
to an agreement : I will send you something from time 
to time without writing, and you shall write me nice 
things in return — particularly any nice scruples you 
may have ! 

I hope to send something very shortly, and hope 
it will reach you when you have some free time, so 
that you can return it quickly, accompanied by the 
said scruples. I need not really have as many qualms 
as usual, for your kind, long letter was, I regret to 
say, three-parts taken up with that good-for-nothing 

I am sorry I have not your letter by me, otherwise 
I could answer it better ; that is to say, agree with 
some of your remarks! — as to Fraulein Spies, for 
instance, and Frau Joachim's undeniable position in 
the very front rank. The other will never be able 

* The person responsible for the breach in their correspondence. 

t It is doubtful whether Brahms agreed with her objections to the 
chords of the six-four in Immer Iciser. He evidently wrote them 
deUberately, because they seemed to him a fitting expression for the 
feverish exaltation of the song. Hanslick had suggested the poem 
(by Hermann Lingg), but at first neither contents nor form appealed 
to Brahms. The breaks in the song after * singt im Wald ' and * Willst 
du 7nich' which are really inadmissible, may be explained as express- 
ing the failing of the invalid's voice, which is making its last desperate 
efforts to be heard before sinking into a last sleep. Sung by an ideal 


to catch her up, for various reasons, but she has just 
those quahties which tell in a concert-hall rather than 
in a room. We get very little good singing in Vienna, 
and her success there is very natural and desirable. 
I am most looking forv^ard to the new symphony 
among Herr Heini's new things. I still consider the 
two string trios and the three quartets* his high-water 
mark more or less, and I want to see him reach gaily 
beyond it. 

If I do send, I shall only enclose the violin part with 
the greatest reluctance.! Reading together at sight 
from the manuscript is usually very unsatisfactory. 
As far as enjoying it goes, it is much better to play it 
through comfortably alone. 

I must go to rehearsal,! and will only add best 
wishes for Christmas. Have I your address ? 

Well, ' until presently,' as they say on the Rhine. — 
With kindest regards, yours very sincerely, 


interpreter, the song should produce the impression that it is costing 
the singer her life : for in response to the dying girl's call comes, not 
her lover, but Death. Billroth, to whom Brahms sent the song on 
August 1 8 from Thun as 'the work of one of your old colleagues' 
(Hermann Lingg being a retired Bavarian army doctor), replied : 
* H. Lingg's poem about the dying girl in your illuminating setting 
affected me most of all. I imagined it sung quite simply in a touching 
girhsh voice, and I am not ashamed to say that I could not finish 
playing it for weeping.' The ultimate success of this particular song 
justified Billroth's choice, and the chain of chords of the six-four will 
go down to posterity unchallenged. 

* Herzogenberg's Op. 27 and 42. 

t The A major violin sonata. 

I Of his fourth symphony, which he was conducting at Buda-Pesth 
on the 22nd. 


194. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Berlin, Kurfurstenstrasse 87, 
December 28, 1886.] 

My dear Friend, — Was it of your own devising 
or by a lucky chance that your letter arrived on 
Christmas Eve, the first and most precious of Christmas 
presents ? It meant much to me to read my name in 
your dear writing again at last, and if you would take 
that to heart you might be less chary of setting pen to 
paper. It is a pity, for you used not to be so lazy; 
indeed, you honoured me with many a nice long letter. 
However, I am well satisfied with the contents of this 
one, and can hardly fail to agree with your proposal to 
send me music now and then * without writing,' while 
I find * nice things ' to say in reply. Please do not 
forget this delightful compact, but act upon it soon ! 

I thought we should probably agree about Fraulein 
Spies. Yet it seems to me something might be done 
by an impressive word in season ; but it must come 
from a musician, and you are the only one to do it. 
Her talent is such as to make it worth while to warn 
her against resting on her oars too much. There may 
always come a turn in public opinion, and I do think 
she might become more serious. She sang your two 
songs here as if she were reading them, and I only 
consider her light head-notes really beautiful, quite 
bewitching indeed. The lower notes are inclined to 
be thick, and the high ones hollow and harsh. If 
only I dare tell her — but I cannot venture, whereas 
you could and ought. 

To-morrow evening we shall hear Joachim do your 
B flat sextet,* and I have it with me at the piano now, 

* Op. 18, 


so as to have it all fresh in my mind. You see we 
have a good deal of you here, and you are in good 
hands. The other day, at the end of a long concert 
which we only sat out with difficulty, they sang the 
Liebeslieder ;* and when Hausmann's head appeared 
suddenly in the background, we recognized him, and 
he us, by sheer force of the animation the beloved 
things had aroused. 

Last year I even made an acquaintance on the 
strength of your music. It was when they did the 
E minor, and Frau Hartmannf and her son were 
listening with such unusual keenness, that I introduced 
myself, thinking I really must know her ; but I really 
loved her before I spoke for her thoughtful face and 
her intent way of listening. I realized the beautiful 
meaning of the word * community,' and Goethe's 
charming lines came into my head : 

' Was ist heilig ? Das ist's, was viele Seelen zusammenbindet 
War's auch nur so leicht, wie die Binse den Kranz.' | 

Good-bye, dear 5ms^. — With kindest remembrances, 

your affectionate and devoted 


How your letter in La Mara§ did amuse us! She 
evidently does not see what a reflection it is on her 
book. Your letter, by the way, gave no clue to your 
present whereabouts. 

* Op. 52. 

t Frau Bertha Hartmann, widow of the poet Moriz Hartmanii, of 
Vienna, and a friend of Billroth's. 

\ From Goethe's Seasons (' Autumn,' No. 69). 
§ See Letter 149, note. 


195. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December 31, 1886.] 

I am sending off sonata and trio* to-day. Please 
let me have a line to say they have arrived safely with 
their wrappers! in spite of its being New Year's Eve. 
I hope the festive season will leave you some free time, 
so that you can write me the few nice things — and 
your scruples. It goes without saying that I want 
them back as soon as possible I Will the Schumann 
symphony soon come, and have you arrived at a 
rehearsal?! — Yours, t gj^ 

196. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Berlin] December 31, 1886. 

My dear Friend, — We were at dinner, Joachim 
with us, when your two registered packages arrived. 
Naturally, we finished with all speed and fell to on the 
sonata. I assure you the trial performance was any- 
thing but unsatisfactory. § Thank Heaven, the thing 

* Op. 100 and Op. loi. 

t Brahms always sent his manuscripts in an ordinary wrapper by 
book-post, if possible. Once, in Vienna, a friend brought him back 
the score of the E minor symphony which he had had to look at, 
and was horrified to see Brahms hurriedly tie it round with a piece 
of tape, and address it to Joachim just as it was. On his friend's 
entreaty that he would register it, Brahms replied : ' Nonsense ! 
Stuff like this doesn't get lost. If by chance it should, why, I should 
write out the score again, that's all. All the same, I will be good, 
and register things in future.' To send off a parcel with all the 
attendant formalities of seaHng, filling in declaration forms, etc., was 
really a nightmare to the impatient composer. Pohl, and later 
Mandyczewski, were always willing to take it off his hands ; but he 
did not care to give them the trouble, and always tried to despatch 
his things in the quickest and easiest way. 

I Cf. Letters 189- 191. § Cf. Letter 193. 


is nothing like so difficult as Frau von B told me 

in her letter. It was only in the last movement that 
I had some trouble with the rhythm. But what a 
charming, happy inspiration of yours it is ! The whole 
piece is one caress. How delighted I was, too, to meet 
and embrace the melody of the Klaus Groth song* in 
the first movement ? The first movement is so clear 
and sunny, the pastorale in the second so lovely (we 
played it quite beautifully straight away), and the third 
will end by becoming my favourite. You see what 
pleasure you have given us, but why, oh why, did you 
disappoint us so grievously by not sending the parts 
of the trio ? If you want to begin the New Year well, 
please forward them at once. Joachim implores you ! 

Please put up with this shortest of notes. It is 
merely a form of receipt, given at Berlin W., on the 
31st inst. at 8.30 p.m., still warm from the excitement 
of playing and enjoying the new acquaintance. 

Please, please send the parts of the trio. We shall 
have time, and you will have everything back very 

Your piece is so lovable, you must be the same, and 

make us happy with those trio-parts. — Your grateful 

and happy ^ tt 

^^•^ Klisabet Herzogenberg. 

The symphony t is to be played shortly. The only 
reliable copyist took such an age to write it out. 

* The second subject of the sonata in A (Op. 100) is a variant on 
the theme of Wie Mclodien zieht es, and at the same time an affec- 
tionate remembrance of Klaus Groth. The song was composed 
before the sonata, and stands in the same relation to it as Regenlied 
(another Groth song) to the violin sonata in G. There is another 
reminiscence in the A major sonata — the touch of Auf dem Kirchhofe 
(Op. 105, No. 4) in the last movement. 

t Schumann's D minor symphony in the original version. 


197. Brahms to Elisahet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, January 8, 1887.] 

To-day is Thursday, so I can give you till Monday. 
Please remember me to your guests and your musi- 

I should think the trio Finale requires, first very 
careful handling, then the reverse ! — Ever yours, 

J. Br. 

198. Elisahet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Berlin, January 9 and 10, 1887. 

My very dear Friend, — I v^ill pack up your music 
to-morrow first thing, but must get a little note written 
to-day, which shall at least tell you of our delight in 
the new pieces, if nothing else. It would be even more 
idiotic than usual if this poor little midge should set 
herself to catalogue her impressions, and attempt to 
explain why it is all so beautiful. I could not do it 
with any conviction, if I would ; for I confess I think 
the particular success of these compositions is due, not 
to any particular features one could point out, but to 
the fact that they were evidently inspired from above. 
You were indeed highly favoured ! Few things, I 
imagine, have ever been so perfectly proportioned as 
this trio, which is so passionate and so controlled, so 
powerful and so lovable, so terse and so eloquent. I 
suspect your feelings as you wrote the last bar were 
very much those of Heinrich der Vogler, in his prayer : 
'Thou gavest me a goodly haul, for which I thank 
Thee, Lord ' 

I find all the four movements fascinating, but the 


last proved the most exciting, as, indeed, a Finale 
should. It does not make the others less beautiful. 
Could anyone imagine anything more lovely than the 
gentle Andante with its tender duologue between piano 
and strings ? The first movement is glorious, with its 
exquisite second subject and the working-out, as fine 
as it is short. One can find no fault with it until the 
end, and then only because it is over and one would 
like more But the pearl among them all is of course 
the second, muted movement, which is truly irresistible. 
Its ghost-like figures ('lovely phantoms,' as Heinrich 
says) are so tangible in their beauty. 

If you knew, dear Friend, how happy this piece has 
made us I We have no greater pleasure in the world 
than that we derive from your music. You will not 
feel aggrieved, I hope, if I fail to manifest any of the 
scruples you so kindly ordered. I really cannot dis- 
cover any, and should have to be a very punctilious 
person to find anything to complain of. We were all 
surprised to find you did not give us a second subject 
in the last movement; but, after all, the good God 
makes some flowers with five sepals and some with 
more, and they invariably turn out well, His flowers ! 
And if you can produce such a flow of movement 
without a second subject, why should we dictate a 
diff'erent method to you ? It is only that we are such 
creatures of habit, and you so seldom swerve from 
tradition in these matters, that it comes as a shock. 
At the close of the trio Andante you have varied the 
passage shared by violin and 'cello — the violin in 
double notes. The first time it comes it is : 


January lo. 

I was interrupted last night, dear Friend, by the 
arrival of the Wildenbruchs,* and refrained con- 
scientiously from even glancing at the music this 
morning, for fear of delaying it ; so, as I cannot quote 
it accurately from memory, I will only say that the 
first version is quite easy, according to Joachim, and 
much nicer than the second, where you crossed out 
the middle parts. He thinks, much better leave it as 
it was. Your music has made us all blissfully happy. 
We are so full of it, we can talk of nothing else. The 
Wildenbruchs were delighted too. He is hard of 
hearing, by which I mean hard to move to enthusiasm 
in respect of music ; but yesterday he quite melted, 
and opined that the trio was a perfect expression of 
your character. I quite agree ; indeed, it is better than 
any photograph, for it shows your real self 

I did so want to address your music to Frankfurt. f 
I have quite a bad conscience when I am allowed to 
see any of these things — even though it be by the 
merest chance — before that dear, blessed woman over 
there, who has first claim to all the good and beautiful 
things in the world, and especially to your music. I 
know how she is longing to see them, and I am sure 
you will be kind — kind and sweet as your kindly 
A major sonata — and send the things to Frankfurt at 
once if you can possibly spare them. And please send 
me that new thing for chorus.f I am so eager to see 
it, and you must be in a generous frame of mind, 
induced by all the glorious music you have composed ; 
so strike the iron (of kindness) while it is hot, and 

* Legaiionsrat Ernst von Wildenbruch (b. 1845), poet and novelist. 
t To Frau Schumann. % ^^ Herbst, Op. 104, No. 5. 


put a wrapper round that chorus piece, won't you, 
please ? 

No one could open it with keener, thirstier, more 
loving looks than Heinrich and myself. I think 1 am 
safe in claiming that the said Heinrich constitutes your 
very best public, for nothing could exceed his delight, 
his dear, intelligent, sincere delight in any new, beau- 
tiful work of yours. How I pity the musician who, 
incapable of such enthusiasm, is peevishly occupied in 
recording or defending his own successes, great or 
small! Think if I had married X, or Y ! I should 
never have survived. 

But good-bye now. If you send the chorus, please 
enclose Heinrich's four madrigals (I packed them up 
with my own hands). I hope you liked them a little. 
We heard In der Nacht^ here, and it really sounded 
like velvet — or so his wife thinks. The entries of the 
basses at the end are magnificent. 

Be nice, and send us something else to occupy our 
affections soon. 

I should so like to make up my mind about the tempi 
in the last movement of the trio. When, when shall 
we see it again ! — Your grateful friend, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

199. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Berlin] January 9, 1887. 

Dearest Friend, — Your last chamber-music pieces 
proved a positively royal gift, not only to my wife, but 
particularly to us men — Joachim, Spitta, Hausmann, 
and myself They are constructed in the plainest 
possible way from ideas at once striking and simple, 

* Published later among the Scchs Gcsiinge fur gemischien Chor a 
capella, Op. 57. 


fresh and young in their emotional qualities, ripe and 
wise in their incredible compactness. The result is 
some of the most convincing music I know, and the 
general tendency of the form is as surprising as it is 
instantly satisfying. 

We had a foretaste in the 'cello sonata,* and now 
the violin sonata and the triof seem to us the perfect 
development of this new drift. No one, not even 
yourself, can say what it will lead to ; let us hope it 
will clear the field and leave the giants in possession. 
Smaller men will hardly trust themselves to proceed 
so laconically without forfeiting some of what they 
want to say. We felt almost like the Fisherman in 
the Arabian Nights,\ out of whose tiny box an 
enormous genius sprang, the difference being that 
we could hardly feel surprise at the contents of the 
box, though we were the more amazed at the small 
space in which they were confined. 

And where shall I begin to quote examples ? The 
second movement of the trio remains the most 
marvellous, for there you strike an entirely new note ; 
and yet its character is so well established by the first 
few bars that one feels it to be an old acquaintance. 
Not until the whole short movement has flitted past 
us do we realize that it is the clear-cut outline which 
enabled us to grasp it instantaneously. Then the 
Andante from the violin sonata ! We fell in love 
with it on the spot, of course. At first I did not 
quite like the idea of the lovely F major lady's 
betrothal to that melancholy Norwegian jester ;§ how- 

* Op. 97. t Op. 100 and Op. loi. 

% The adventures of Diandar, the fisherman. 

§ Herzogenberg means the D minor vivace, which alternates three 
times with the Andante tranquiUo in F major, and eventually closes 
the movement. It is slightly reminiscent in general colouring to 
Grieg's violin sonata, Op. 8. 


ever — so long as the union turns out well, and they 
have plenty of children ! 

The Finale of the violin sonata affected us curiously. 
Joachim and 1 did so want a second subject, just where 
you reach the E major chord through the dominant 
7th on B, after those long, winding arabesques.* We 
listened open-eared and open-mouthed; but the 
moment passed, and the principal subject, which is 
really exquisite, made its reappearance. We pedants 
should either have regained the dominant of the 
principal key by an interrupted cadence, or b}^ a full 
close leading to some new combination, or at least 

introduced a long pedal note on E with p forming the 

bridge into A major.! Ah yes, we pedants ! And 
what avails all our learning against your determina- 
tion, when the one is as completely at your disposal 
as the other is beyond our reach ! The first move- 
ment of the sonata has a very special place in our 
affections. The effect of the unconcerned lapse into 
C sharp minor (in the development)! is original and 
very charming, also the gay re-entry of the first 
subject in A major, which has the air of shaking 
itself free of the development section with a smiling 
* Well, that's over, my friends ; now let me go my 
ways in peace.' To return to the trio, that cleverly 

dissected ^ bar§ is bewitching; and so is the manner 

in which the two choruses relieve each other, changing 
over as easily as if they were three people rehearsing 
a well-known piece and picking up their cues from 
memory. You, meanwhile, betray not the faintest 

* P. 48, bar 18. t p. 8, bar i. | P. 8, last bar. 

§ Brahms divides it as follows: f + | + f {Andante grazioso). 


interest in your puppets, but leave them to their 

own devices. Your big paw comes down heavily 

with the very opening of the Finale, however, and 

one sees stars, and begins to count the slain ; at least, 

it nearly proved the death of my wife, that stormy 

semiquaver passage* in particular. How splendid 

the pp subject is, with chords for the strings and 

splashes for the piano,t and then the coda in 

C major with the subject played legato^ and finally the 

tremendous jubilations,§ where the rhythm would not 

come right — not that it matters ! And here I am on 

the point of forgetting the second subject in the first 

movement,! for which I could kiss your hand if you 

were Liszt, but then you would never have had the 

inspiration ! 

Well, if the blessings and thanks of an old cackler 

like myself are of any account, I hope you will accept 

them, together with my apologies for failing to provide 

a more suitable wrapper for the music.lF — Ever yours 

sincerely, xt 

•^ Herzogenberg. 

200. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, January 15, 1887.] 

My dear Friend, — I have to thank you for a pleasant 
evening and a pleasant morning; the one brought your 
letter, and the other the many enclosures which I un- 
folded one after the other from your rolls — to my 
delectation in every respect. 

The * night-song '** sounded like velvet in my ears 

* P. 27, bar 15. t p. 26, bar ii. | P. 34, bar 6. 

§ P. 35, tempo primo. || P. 4, bar 3. 

^ Herzogenberg's own compositions. 
** Herzogenberg's chorus In der Nacht, from Op. 57. 



too, and I secretly wished a certain pretty little 
woman were coming to play it with me a quatre 
mains. I think I liked that one best. It is the first 
time, however, that I have desired or needed a lady's 
assistance, for I invariably play duets by myself. So 
far the violin sonata appeals to me least ; it smacks 
more (so far) of Berlin streets than of lovely Berchtes- 
gaden walks. 

I consider myself a very knowing fellow, by the 
way, to think out tunes and develop them while I am 
out walking. Heinz's things, more than anyone else's, 
make me think of myself, and recall the scene and the 
manner of my own struggles to learn and to create. 

He really knows and understands, and that is why 
I treasure and depend on his approval (with yours 
thrown in). 

His knowledge is wider and more accurate than 
mine ; but that is easy to explain. What I do envy 
him is his power of teaching. We have both trodden 
the same steep paths with the same plodding earnest- 
ness. Now he can do his part to spare others the 
weary effort. Berlin is responsible for much talk and 
much bad method, but better days seemed to have 
dawned there for the present generation. 

You must forgive me for replying to so much else 
with a hasty 'thank you.' 

It is to be hoped you can guess how much nicer I 
really am than I appear. — Kindest regards. Yours, 


201. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, March i, 1887. 
My dear Friend, — I am returning you the Schumann 
symphony with many thanks. You will think it a 


nuisance, because there is duty to pay on it, but I dare 
not send it by book-post. 

Your charming letter in response to my fat parcel 
gave us indescribable joy. It means more to Heinrich 
to have you write like that than to receive an order 
pour le merite^ and he sends his warmest thanks. His 
only hope is that you will not find the violin sonata 
so Berlinerisch on closer acquaintance. I think you 
would not say that of three big things for chorus, 
which you have not seen yet. Oh, why can't we be 
together sometimes ! Heinrich so longs for it, and 
it would mean so much to him. And you would have 
some pleasure in our company too, when you read in 
our faces our delight in yours. Oh that trio ! I 
wrote out a whole heap of the C minor movement 
for our angel,* and the Andante too. They two will 
sit at the piano and enjoy the beautiful fragments, 
while he, the favoured one who heard the trio at our 
house, will discourse learnedly about it. Those are 
the sort of people one would rather have here than at 
Utrecht. . . .t 

Hausmann is playing Heinrich's sonata on the i6th, 
and — can you believe it — with me ! He has invited 
none of the critics, and I therefore took courage, 
for we really agree about the piece and play it well 
together. I even cherish the secret desire to play 
your sonata ! I should not breathe this to anyone else, 
but I know you will only be good-naturedly amused 
at my presumption. And now I have still to ask you 
to put those choruses t into an envelope — will you ? 

* Frau Engelmann. 

+ The passage omitted consists of a violent tirade on the indecisive, 
opportunistic attitude of the Musikalisches Wochenblatt, and an urgent 
request that Brahms would interfere and set everyone to rights. 

X Herzogenberg, Op. 52. 

20 — 2 


But I should have congratulated you on your Order 
pour le merite* The truth is, I can't help feeling more 
inclined to congratulate the Order in a case like this ; 
for it may flatter itself on having come to the right 
person for once. 

Last of all, I should like to suggest that when you 
put Heinrich's choruses into their cover you might 
slip in something else besides. I know you have 
written some choruses yourself,t so why not show 
them to a pair of lovers like ourselves, who are 
yearning to see them ? 

Be a nice kind person and think of us occasionally. — 

Your very devoted 


202. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, March, 1887.] 

Alas, dear friend, newspapers have become a neces- 
sary evil, and I fear the habit of reading even musical 
gossip has grown too strong. Admitting this to be 
so, I consider Fritzsch's the most practical and toler- 
able — I hesitate to say the best. As to the others, 
from the Signale to Chrysander, I can call them bad — 
without hesitation. 

As for the violent tone, I hardly think that a dis- 
advantage ; it rouses such readers as take it seriously 
to closer attention and to protest. You know you 
would never touch a flabby thing like the Signale or 
the more ambitious . . . ? 

Fritzsch does not rouse me to protest, principally 

* Brahms had just received this high distinction. The Order was 
founded by Frederick the Great, and has rarely found its way to the 
* wrong ' person. 

t Fiinf Gesdnge fiir gemischUn CJior a capella, pubhshed 1889. 


because he deals with us mortals of to-day and yester- 
day. Now Chrysander succeeded in enraging me to 
the point of protesting. I could not stand the way he 
advertised the Mozart things, for instance, without 
a trace of affection or piety, and distorting the facts 
to suit his own preconceived notions. Yet we allowed 
this treatment of our glorious Mozart to pass, and con- 
tinued to respect Chrysander, as indeed he deserves ! 

Again, it is a matter of supreme indifference to 
friend Fritzsch whether we respect him and his paper 
or not. 

By which I merely mean that a journalist is in 
much the same case as a parson. If you must protest, 
why stop at defending Heinrich and abusing Fritzsch ? 
Look at your Berlin papers and your Berlin public 
next time the latest filth from Paris arrives, and then 
look at the interest and attention men like Heyse, 
Keller* — and greater than they — receive ! And do 
you really believe they would play one note of my 
music in Berlin if French composers of to-day had 
a shade more talent ? — and so on, and so on. I only 
wish to persuade you to let it pass, remembering that 
Fritzsch is a decent, well-meaning fellow in himself, 
and that by going over to the Hochschule you have, 
after all, come within his legitimate line of fire. . . . 

But I cannot write any more, and would much 
rather have written of other matters. 

Fortunately my sheet is full, and I must not spoil 
the sweet picture, t 

So good-bye. — With kindest regards, yours, 

J. Br. 

* Paul Heyse and Gottfried Keller were among Brahms's favourite 
t A portrait of Hans von Biilow adorning the note-paper. 


203. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April, 1887.] 

My dear Friend, — I am going to Italy,* and shall 
be at Thun from about the middle of May onward. 

As I shall be making no music myself, you might 
send me your new things to look at there. They will 
sound very beautiful with the ripple of the river coming 
through the open window.f 

If it were not too lengthy, I would tell you in detail 
how the warning which you thought so desirable has 
descended on Fraulein Spies, and how well Hanslick,J 
who felled the blow, came out of it all — as usual. 

But I have all my belongings to pack up. A line 
here would still reach me, as I start on the 26th. 
Once I am at Thun, however, I appeal to your charity 
for a good supply of summer reading. — Yours, 

J. Br. 

* Brahms's companions on his fifth Italian tour were Fritz Simrock, 
his publisher, and Theodor Kirchner, who came as Simrock's guest. 
Writing to Biilow, Brahms says : * Simrock's happy thought of giving 
Kirchner a glimpse of the promised land delighted me, but I now 
fear it is at least twenty years too late. At least, I suspect he only 
feels really at home when he sits down to dinner or supper, and can 
chat about the Gewandhaus and other splendours.' The outward 
tour included Verona, Vicenza, Venice, Bologna, and Florence, the 
return being made by way of Pisa, Milan, and the St. Gothard to 
Thun, where Brahms arrived on May 15 for the summer. 

t Brahms's summer house at Hofstetten, near Thun, was beside 
the River Aar, at the point where it bends to flow into the town. 
There is a picture of the house, with its commemorative tablet, on 
plate XXV. of the Brahms-Bilderbuch, edited by Viktor von Miller. 

I Hanslick had raised a warning voice in the Neue Freie Press e, 
drawing the singer's attention to various defects of style. It is true 
she had fallen a victim to an * East Prussian catarrh ' in between, and 
her voice had suffered considerable injury. 


204. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Berlin, May 16, 1887.] 

My dear Friend, — At last we know where to find 
you again, and I am writing without delay at my poor 
Heinrich's request. He has been seriously ill for 
nearly six weeks now, and I have had an anxious 
time ; I can hardly say it is over yet, although I am 
no longer so alarmed. 

We took advantage of our short Easter holiday of 
seventeen days to pay a flying visit to Florence too, 
for the sake of my dear old mother, who was anxious 
to see us. It is only a day and a half s travelling, and 
we can stand these enforced journeys very well ; but, 
unfortunately, the weather was icy, and one so easily 
takes cold there with those wicked stone floors and 
those tricky little alleys which are so villainously 
draughty. Poor Heinz fell a victim to a sudden attack 
of rheumatism towards the end of our stay, and had 
to make the journey back under painful conditions. 
Once here, he developed something more serious, and 
was soon unable to put his right foot to the ground. 
He was kept in bed suffering intensely, and, worst of 
all, the doctors (for I had to call in a second) were at 
a loss, and could neither tell how serious it was nor 
what course the disease was likely to follow. It seems 
the symptoms were strangely contradictory. They 
finally diagnosed an inflammation of the os sacrum^ 
but the application of ice-bags increased the pain to 
such an extent that they had to reject the theory. 
Our own dear doctor from Leipzig, who hurried over 
unprofessionally to reassure himself, took it to be 
inflammation of the hip-bone ; but that had to be given 
up too, and we now call it muscular rheumatism ! 


All this would be more comic than tragic were it 
not for the uncertainty of the treatment. The pains 
have yielded to morphia injections, thank Heaven ! but 
he makes no progress in walking. For the last ten 
days he has been able to hobble about with crutches, 
but only a few steps at a time and with great difficulty. 
He was always so gay, and has not been ill once in 
all these eighteen years, which makes this suffering 
and enforced idleness doubly hard to bear ; even his 
patience is not equal to it. Yesterday, for the first 
time, we were able to cheer him a little with some 
music. We played him your trio, your glorious trio, 
beloved above all things, and the effect of it,, together 
with the society of the two players, was a great im- 
provement in spirits. He sends a thousand thanks 
for the precious gift and the kind thought which 
prompted it.* 

He also thanks you very much for the parcel sent 
before you left, with the interesting photographs. We 
had not seen that lovely van Eyck before. Fraulein 
Spies told me how good you had been to her, and how 
glad she was you spoke to her. She was quite willing 
to take anything from me too, and expressed herself 
to that effect in a very nice letter. But I was tied by 
my husband's illness, and she was unable to keep the 
appointment we made. 

We searched that envelope in vain for the chorus,t 
to which we are looking forward so eagerly. Now 
that Heinz is so ill, and sadly needs distraction, you 
will send him it, however, won't you, dear Friend ? 
We will then write you a nice long letter, and sing 
your praises and praise your kindness. Do, do send 

■* Brahms had sent them a printed copy of the trio. 
t Im Herbst, Op. 104, No. 5. 


something. To-morrow I am to play your sonata* 
with Joachim by order of Heinrich the hungry. Then 
comes the turn of the 'cello sonata, and after that we 
start on the old beloved round again. 

Heinrich sent you his two new choruses t through 
Astor,J and begs you to say a kind word about them. 
He is longing for it. So you are in Switzerland again, 
far away from us, and I suppose we shall not see you 
again all our days, which is a sad thought ! 

We are only staying here as long as we are abso- 
lutely obliged. As soon as Heinrich is equal to sitting 
in the train, we shall go to Nauheim (between Frank- 
furt and Giessen), and try what vigorous treatment 
will do towards driving out the rheumatic pains. 
After that we hope to be different beings, and propose 
to rest from our labours at quiet Liseley. I am keep- 
ing exceedingly well, and my capacity of nurse calls 
out all the strength of which I have a store in reserve 
against emergencies. 

Good-bye, dear Friend, and send something nice for 
my poor cripple. 

All happiness and prosperity to you throughout the 
summer — the reflection to fall on your ever faithful 


205. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Thux, May 26, 1887.] 
Our friend Astor has just sent me the sumptuous 
sequel to your letter, and I must send a word of 
thanks at once, also my heartfelt sympathy to Heinz. 

* The A major sonata. 

t Der Stern dcs Licds, ode for chorus and orchestra, Op. 55, and 
Die Wcihc der Naclii, for contralto, chorus, and orchestra, Op. 56. 
X Of the publishing firm Rieter-Biedermann. 


I know of a similar case here, about which I will tell 

him w^hen his speedy recovery is an established fact. 

Had I anything remotely approaching these things of 

his to send, I would not keep you waiting.* But there 

is nothing that is any good, and I don't know what 

ground you have for your kind supposition. 

Don't leave me without reports of Heinz, however 

brief. , ^ 

J. Br. 

206. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg, 

[Thux, July 20, 1887.] 

Poor Heinz ! and poor Liseley and poor Lisel into 
the bargain ! How sorry I am about it all, and how 
I wish I may very soon be able to send you another 
reminder, and thus enjoy the feeling of being present 
with you ! This is an occasion for writing or sending 
something really pleasing, but, alas ! I can neither send 
a lot of beautiful new compositions, like Heinz, nor 
acknowledge things in more beautiful words like you. 
I can but keep my pen going a little, begging you to 
recognize my good intentions, and this exchange of 
coin may prove profitable to us both. 

The best thing that came my way this summer was 
a delightful couple of days spent with Frau Schumann.f 

* He was probably not satisfied with his new compositions, and 
wanted to improve them. 

t Brahms had promised his friend Wiillner, much against his will, 
as he insisted in a letter of many pages, to go to Cologne for the 
twenty-fourth Tonkunstler-Versammluiig, where the following of his 
works were performed : Darihulas Grabgesang (from Op. 42), the 
Triumpiilied, the violin concerto (Brodsky), and the new C minor 
trio, in which Brahms was associated with Hollander and Hegyesi. 
Richard Pohl, who plumed himself on ' discovering ' Brahms on this 
occasion (c/. Kalbeck, Brahms, i. 216), described the trio in the 
Wochenblatt as ' hardly among the most striking of his chamber-music 


I must at least give you that information, and tell you 
how entirely I agreed with your words of some time 
back. But I can give you nothing worth calling 
information about the undersigned musician. True, 
he is now writing down a thing which does not yet 
figure in his catalogue — but neither does it figure in 
other people's!* I leave you to guess the particular 
form of idiocy ! 

If I were able to talk to Heinz, I should have a great 
deal to say about his chorus works; but I should never 
be able to write it all. A mere * bravo f won't do it. You 
know well with what pleasure and interest I look at the 
things. I am sure none of their beauty and delicacy 
escapes me, and I am often vastly entertained by Hein- 
rich's skill in adapting difficult words in the text. 

But that is just it : I am obliged to protest against 
the poems t (as is so often the case with new composi- 
tions), which are totally unsuited to a musical setting 
both in form and contents. 

Of course one ought to hear these things first to 
find out if it is, after all, possible to enjoy them. 

Reading them is quite another matter, and has its 
advantages as well as its disadvantages. 

I can see Heinz's admirers (SpengelJ in Hamburg 
is one) waxing enthusiastic over Nachtweihe. 

works. On the way Brahms called on Frau Schumann, and removed 
a slight misunderstanding which had clouded their friendship 

* The double concerto for violin and 'cello. 

t The words to Stern des Lieds and Weihe der Nachi are by Robert 
Hamerling and Friedrich Hebbel respectively. 

I Julius Spengel (b. 1853), composer and conductor of the Hamburg 
Cdcilienverein. In 1898 he published an interesting character study 
of Brahms, and in 1897 an essay, Heinrich von Herzogenbcrg in scinen 
Vokalwcrken^ published later by Rieter-Biedermann. 


I fear the words would prevent me, however fine 
the music. 

For instance, take ^ Ich hatte viel Bekummernis^ ;^ you 
may repeat it (in music) as often as you like. I shall 
understand it and follow it with interest until you 
arrive at Trostungen. 

If, on the other hand, you begin by treating * Was 
da iebfe^'t fugally, I have no clue for the time being. 
Your next phrase — *was aus engem^ — is no more en- 
lightening, and by the time the sentence is finished I 
find I have been listening solely to the music, and am 
still not much the wiser. If, on the other hand, you 
attempt a whole sentence as in ^ Seele^ du,^t I see, of 
course, that you are taking pains to speak plainly ; but 
the music confuses me, and I still do not know what I 
have heard. 

Only, please remember, all this has first to be proved. 

Hamerling's plaint is the kind of poem that does not 
attract me particularly. All the same, I would write 
music to it with the greatest pleasure — if I were 
inspired to anything like the cheerful, festive march 
in E flat from The Ruins of Athens.^ The 'chosen 
one 'II should hover in the air to just such music — 
but I should laugh the poet Hamerling to scorn at the 
same time. Even more than in the other song, I am 
conscious here of the tendency (often unavoidable) 
to turn every comma into a (musical) full stop. 

* Bach cantata. 

t The whole sentence reads : ' Was da lebte, was aus engem Kreise 
auf ins Weite strebte, sanft und leise sank es in sich selbst zuriick ' 

I ' Seele, du wachst noch ' (Hebbel). 

§ Beethoven. Brahms places Hamerling's ode on a level with 
Kotzebue's poem d' occasion, which Beethoven set to music. 

II ' Mag freudenleer hinziehn ein Erkorener.' 


In between I have been out for an hour's walk. I 

would really rather send the nearest empty sheet with 

a simple greeting than this confused twaddle. But 

you must believe I mean well. My greetings are the 

same as of old, I am the same as of old, and ever yours 

sincerely, t t^ 

-^ J. Br. 

207. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Thun, July 23, 1887.] 

I am feeling most rueful about my very unseemly 
and superfluous chatter the other day. It would be a 
real consolation if you would write just a line to say 
that you, at least, took it for chatter and nothing else. 
We have all sinned, and fall short of the glory of 
God ! 

Well, I can only say I shall not succumb to the 
temptation of a sheet of note-paper again for some 
time ! 

But I wish you all things good and beautiful. You 
can leave grumbling and its consequences to yours 
very sincerely, . p. 

208. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

LiSELEY, July 27, 1887. 

My dear Friend, — You need not feel rueful. We 
are glad to have either your grumblings or your 
flattery, and when you combine the two, as in your 
very nice Munich letter,* Heinrich is the first to say, 

* The letter bore the postmark Thun; but Frau von Herzogenberg 
was at Munich when it came, and therefore calls it a Munich letter. 


'God bless you'! Naturally he would have been 
pleased, poor devil I had you been able to say of 
any one movement : * 1 like that.' You know your- 
self what a difference that makes, and you are 
spoiled while he is not — consequently it means a 
hundred times as much to him. But these are merely 
my remarks — his wife's, who alone has the right to 
make them. He sends many, many thanks for your 
kind letter. 

1 can give no good account of my poor dear. The 
famous Ziemssen* held out small hope of a speedy 
recovery when we were in Munchen. He took it to 
be an obstinate muscular complaint (his nerves seem 
only indirectly affected, as they would be in any 
illness), and was of opinion that a strict course of 
treatment, after a few weeks of rest here, would be 
absolutely necessary. We shall probably have to 
go to a hydro where Heinrich can be treated by 
electricity, massaged, wrapped in wet cloths, and 
taken in hand in every possible sort of way. Ziemssen 
insists on hot sand-baths and plenty of gymnastics 
as being of primary importance, and hopes for some 
visible result from this polyphonic Kur after six weeks 
or so. 

So we shall hardly be able to return to Berlin in 
October. Heinrich's patience is incomparable, really 
splendid, and how can I complain, with that before 
me ? — not to speak of the advantage I have in being 
actively employed in his service. I have to plan out 
everything; to nurse him, electrify, bandage, dress and 
undress my sick child, and there is no time left for 
brooding. Also, thank God ! I am an inveterate 
optimist, which is a help both to him and myself. But 
* H. W. von Ziemssen, a Munich specialist. 


it is not an easy time, all the same, and I shall 
heave a very special sigh of relief v^hen I can say : 
it lies behind me. 

Naturally, we are quite of your opinion as to 
Hamerling's text. We never liked it, but it is tempting 
to set to music ; and if one can only forget the author, 
it even strikes one as beautiful in places. If you do 
happen to be keen on v^^riting for chorus, and feel you 
must unburden your soul by composing in that par- 
ticular form, you end by making a compromise. 
You can like a text on so many different scores. 
Very often it does not show to advantage until it is 
seen in its musical setting — as, for instance, your 
NaMwandlerlied* v^hich I should consider far from 
edifying, were it not for your music. 

Well, when you see the psalm f I really think you 
will be satisfied with my Heinrich. 

I must really close. Please excuse this unsatis- 
factory letter. I never have more than five consecutive 
minutes at my disposal, now that I am a perfect slave, 
more like a human sponge than a human being ; a 
bad friend and a worse correspondent. 

Write again soon and send that chorus, for I happen 
to know that Billroth has seen it.J — Your old friend, 


* Op. 86, No. 3. Text by Max Kalbeck. 

t Ps. xciv., for four soloists, double chorus, orchestra, and organ 
(Op. 60). 

I As a matter of fact, Brahms had sent the much-discussed chorus, 
together with other new compositions, to Billroth from Thun on 
August 18, 1886, Billroth being one of the few privileged to see his 
works before they were printed. Frau von Herzogenberg may have 
had her information from Frau Hartmann. 


209. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Telegram from Baden-Baden,"* 
September 25, 1887.] 

Neuwittelsbach Hydropathic, Neuhausen. Expect 
me to-morrow morning. — Br. 

210. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, October 15, 1887.] 

Epstein has just sent me your card, which grieved 
me very much. How I wish I could offer you any 
little pleasure or distraction ! The concerto t could 
only be the latter at best. Perhaps I may send it you 
from Cologne, which is my destination to-day. 

All kindest messages to your dear invalid. Keep 

up your own natural gaiety, and hope confidently for 

better times soon. — Ever yours, 

J. Br. 

211. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Neuwittelsbach, near Munich, 
October 18, 1887.] 

My dear Friend, — Your dear kind post-card did me 
so much good, and recalled so vividly the hours you 
spent here with us. I should have written long before 

* Brahms had gone to Baden-Baden to meet Joachim and Haus- 
mann on September 19, and rehearse the double concerto for violin 
and 'cello with the municipal orchestra at the Kurhaus, and also, as 
he expressed it in a letter to Frau Henriette Fritsch at Marseilles, to 
' practise hard.' The first performance was announced for October 18 
at Cologne, the second for November 18 at Frankfurt, and the third 
at Basel. 

t Op. 102. 


this to thank you anew for the precious gift of your 
friendship, had we not been so far in the depths our- 
selves that my courage failed and my heart despaired. 
It is no better now ; each new day is inexorable in 
bringing the old pains, added to which I am bed- 
ridden myself. It was all through the doctor's too 
vigorous application of cold water bandages for 
bronchial catarrh (before you came), the result being 
a skin affection, an artificial illness induced by the 
remedy for a natural one ! It began to spread so 
alarmingly, and the pressure of my clothes made it 
worse. So I could not stay up any longer, and here 
I am useless, a creature of luxury — and my poor dear 
wants help so badly. Our only distraction is the snow, 
which has been falling steadily in huge, noiseless 
flakes for three days ; our consolations, a splendid 
little stove and a good room, with windows facing 
south, although no sun comes in through them ; our 
pleasures, an occasional kind letter (Joachim's the 
day before yesterday, for instance, with the three first 
quartets), and your card with its enticing promise ! 
Our dear old mother, who nurses us devotedly and 
reads to us, is also a blessing. After all, there is no 
comforter like a mother. 

You will send the concerto, won't you ? It will 
cheer our very souls, and prove the best possible 

Remember us to Joachim and Hausmann. Have a 
good time, all of you, and think of these poor wrecks, 

The Herzogenbergs. 
Remember us kindly to the Wiillners, too, please. 



212. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, November 4, 1887.] 

I shall not worry you to return the score in any 
haste. I only wish it were something better, some- 
thing that would make you forget all your sorrow and 
pain for a little. 1 don't know why Wullner did not 
send it a fortnight ago. However, he will conduct 
your choral piece all the better at the next concert* 
You may feel quite comfortable about it, and follow 
an excellent performance in imagination. Be sure you 
keep me posted up. You don't know how much my 
thoughts are wrapped up with you. I hope you will 
soon be able to write more cheerfully, and tell me that 
you are able to go South. — Ever yours most sincerely, 

J. Br. 

213. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December 16, 1887.] 

My dear Friend, — I can only send a line in haste 
to ask you to forward my score to Meiningen. I go to 
Pesth to-day, then to Meiningen, and then to Leipzig 
for the New Year's Day concert. Everything has to 
be done post-haste, or I would have written more 
leisurely. But you must forgive me, and be sure to 
send a line to say how you and Heinz are. I did hear 
of some improvement, and hope you will confirm it. 
Joachim and I talked much of you on our travels. 
You may have heard of our doings from Volkland and 

* Wiillner performed Herzogenberg's Die Weihe der Nacht at the 
third Giirzenich concert, Cologne. 


others.* I hope to be back immediately after New 

Year, and should be uncommonly grateful for any 

letters ! — Most sincerely yours, 

J. Br. 

214. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Munich, Hess Strasse 30, 
December 30, 1887. 

My dear Friend, — This is only a greeting — a 
melancholy one — to show you my frame of mind when 
I think of you all together at Leipzig,! while we are 
so far away in a strange town. O Humboldtstrasse, 
O Zeitzerstrasse, * how shady were thy branches !' Ah 
yes, those happy days have faded, together with all 
our youthful courage ! Now we live by hope only, 
with patience and resignation for our daily bread. 
Sometimes I think it never will be the same again, 
and down goes my head into my hands, while the 
tears — which I can generally control — trickle down. 
So long as you feel you have it in you to be happy, 
gay, even young again, it is really too soon to give up 
all the good things of life and sign a compact with 
grim care. 

God grant we may soon see better days. I some- 
times feel my strength failing me, my natural gaiety, 
as you call it, vanishing beyond recall. My invalid 
is, on the contrary, amazing, and quite himself the 
moment the pains abate. His mind is quite clear too. 
He made an elaborate speech on the use of the sub- 

* At Meiningen, on December 25, Brahms conducted his Haydn 
Variations^ the third symphony, and the B flat major piano concerto 
(D' Albert). On January 3 the double concerto was played there for 
the first time. 

t Joachim and Hausmann played the double concerto at the 
Gewandhaus on January i, Brahms being the conductor. 

21 — 2 


dominant and its substitutes the other day, and is able 
to enjoy the score of your concerto, which so often lies 
open on his bed. As I told you, he could never have 
done that at Neuwittelsbach, and I have therefore 
every reason to believe he is making progress. Yet 
the actual disease — w^hich is the main thing^s dis- 
tressingly immovable, and the doctor has prepared us 
to expect nothing good from the winter. After that 
we are to consult him again ; and will it be any better 
even then ? 

I don't need to tell you how much I have thought 
of you and the friends in Leipzig. How they must 
be looking forward to seeing you and your new 
piece — the dear Engelmanns and the Rontgens, for 
instance ! What a delightful fuss they will make of 
you ! If only I could hear just the rehearsal to-morrow, 
I should have a general idea of the concerto, whereas 
I can only take in fragments of it. That most lovely 
Andante is easy to grasp as a whole, of course, but I 
had no time to study the other movements properly. 
If I am able to write to-day to all my dear friends 
assembled in Leipzig, it is only by giving up my con- 
stitutional (on which the doctor rigidly insists), and 
thanks to Fillu's* help in housekeeping. She has 
been with us since Christmas, but leaves to-morrow, 

Farewell, dear good Friend. You know our red- 
letter days at Leipzig were those of your visits, and 
the very keenness of our pleasure then makes our 
absence this time doubly hard, especially under such 
circumstances. My poor Heinrich sends you kindest 
messages, as does your old friend, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

* Fraulein Marie Fillunger. 


215. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, February, 1888.] 

My dear Friend, — I often reproach myself for not 
writing to you, yet I find it impossible. In the 
ordinary way I can think of you hopefully, but once I 
sit down to write, with the idea of saying something 
comfortable and hopeful, all my thoughts turn to sad- 
ness. I don't care to ask for news, for as soon as you 
can report any improvement you w^ill not fail to com- 
municate with your friends. How I look forward to 
some such cheery message ! 

You will have heard from plenty of sources that you 
were never * absent ' from our little gatherings. It is 
the same here — your picture stands on my writing- 
table* — I never see any of our mutual friends but the 
conversation turns upon you ; particularly is this the 
case with friend Epstein. 

Can you not at least make your plans for spring and 

I mean to write to you frequently if briefly. Perhaps 
I may then find it easier ; for now, as I turn the page, 
I find I cannot go on. I have no desire to start a fresh 
subject, neither can I worry you with questions. 

If you are able to write at all, remember no one 

could be more sincerely pleased to hear than myself. 

Remember me most kindly to your dear Heinz, and, 

if possible, tell me a little how things are. I often 

wonder, for instance, whether you have a piano, and 

can play and sing to him, also whether you have any 

nice friends in Munich ? — As of old, your sincere 

friend, , ^ 

J. Br. 

* Brahms kept her photograph there until his death. 


216. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, February 15, 1888.] 

When your message (for which I here tender 
sincerest thanks) was delivered to me, I heard that 
Frau Franz had tried to send you some very beautiful 
flowers (bulbs). The parcel was returned, however, 
and the most tiresome formalities ensued, all because 
there was no accompanying form to guarantee the 
absence of Phylloxera vastatrix ! Are they secretly 
planting vineyards in Bavaria, or does the little beast 
like beer too ! 

Anyway, you can see that we think of you in Vienna, 

including myself, even if I don't send flower messages. 

— Kindest regards. Yours, 


217. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg. 

[Vienna, March, 1888.] 

Dear Lady, — I think you may be glad that I am 
less delicate in m}^ feelings than Frau Franz, to whom 
the idea of your dear little house* being let to strangers 
was sacrilege. 

I am probably too late to put in a word for her, but 
should like to propose Professor Gomperz,t who would 
be, I imagine, a good tenant. 

To balance this, I have refrained from the still 
greater indelicacy of sending you some excessively 
gay stuff":]: of mine, which a few people here are very 

* * Liseley,' the house standing empty at Berchtesgaden. 
t Dr. Thcodor Gomperz, Professor of classical philology in Vienna. 
X The Zigeunerlieder for vocal quartet, with pianoforte accompani- 
ment (Op. 103). 


fond of singing and hearing. I should never keep 
back from you anything more serious or enjoyable — 
had I but an inspiration ! 

But I do so want a line from you. I suppose my 
letter* was not of the sort to deserve a reply. 

It is not, alas ! by writing letters that I can hope to 

gain anything. — Yours most sincerely, 


218. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms.\ 

Munich, Hess Strasse 30, 
February 16, 1888. 

My very dear Friend, — It did my heart good to see 
your handwriting again and have your letter of three 
pages and a half,t with its after-drip of a post-card 
to-day telling me of Frau Franz's glorious flowers. 
They are quite mad on the subject of the phylloxera 
here. Some years ago we wanted to transplant two 
harmless carnation cuttings from Dozen (where they 
grow particularly fine) to Berchtesgaden, and were 
treated like thieves and murderers when we reached 
the Bavaria frontier. The flowers were escorted back 
into Austrian territory by our kind Salzburg coach- 
man, and after much controversy (for naturally I 
refused to yield an inch) they came back to us, labelled 
with their Bozen medical certificate, but twisted and 
pulled about, and quite worthless, having cost us 
roughly about ten gulden. It is a wicked, senseless 
imposition. I am miserable to think that Frau Franz's 
kindness should meet with such a reward. 

* Refers to Letter 215. 

t This letter, begun on February 16, was set aside, resumed on 
March 6, and finally despatched on March 9, 
X Refers to Letter 215. 


And now thank you for your kind little letter, dear 
Friend — whose questions I am always glad to answer, 
even if the answers cannot be cheerful. Heinrich's 
condition is such that we can only make negative plans 
at j?resent. We know all the things that cannot 
happen — as, for instance, no Liseley for us next 
summer, no return to Berlin in the winter, for the 
whole of that season will have to be spent in * con- 
solidating' the convalescence which favourable cir- 
cumstances may have brought about. The disease 
makes such frightfully slow progress, and in any case 
Heinrich could never risk another northern winter 
again so soon ; it might undo all that we hope the 
summer may do for him. This is the opinion not only 
of our present medical attendant, but of our kind 
Leipzig and Berlin doctors, who continue to take the 
kindest interest in us. So the prospect is dreary 
enough ! Heinrich has'been in bed nearly five months 
now without a break, for his right leg is so twisted 
and stiff that he cannot even sit in an easy-chair. The 
monotony of such an existence, not to speak of actual 
pain and inconvenience, is terrible to anyone as gay 
and lively as Heinrich, who, in spite of the psalmist's 
warning, * taketh pleasure in his legs,'* his nimble, 
indefatigable legs. This mental inactivity too ! Who 
would not be rebellious and despairing? I will spare 
you the description of our dark hours together, when 
my poor dear gives way to despondency. 

But we do have bright moments in spite of our 
misery. Heinrich is so good in meeting every 
pleasure, every distraction, with open arms, so far as 
his physical condition allows. He hears, for instance, 

* ' He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not 
pleasure in the legs of a man ' (Ps. cxlvii. lo). — Tr. 


a little music very occasionally — it is often too much 
for him — played by me, three rooms away. The last 
new Bach volume* gave us great joy ; the last aria for 
contralto.t particularly, with the lovely poetic vision of 
a dwelling in Paradise, * where I shall find rest,' charmed 
us each time afresh. The cantata Come, let us go up 
towards J erusalem^X in the volume before this, was very 
touching and beautiful. What a prophet, what a poet 
this Bach of ours was ! Every Bible verse was to him 
a picture, a complete incident. It is always a fresh 
surprise, however well one knows him. 

March 6. 

My dear Friend, I am really ashamed to take this 
embryo letter from my case, where it has grown old ; 
yet I am not inclined to suppress it, for you will 
realize how tied I am by the fact of my being content 
to patch up this feeblest of letters when I can scribble 
so rapidly at other times. You dear, kind Friend, indeed 
your letter was *of the sort' to deserve and inspire a 
far speedier reply, only you see how I am fixed. I 
have just had an unusually bad time, which cooled all 
my ardour and scattered my thoughts. You would not 
believe how terribly a long illness and nursing absorb 
and stupefy both patient and nurse, nor the amount of 
effort any communication requires when the person 
addressed has no idea of the writer's condition — and 
that you cannot have! When you in your kindness 
came to see us at Neuwittelsbach, everything was mild 
by comparison. This is Heinrich's sixth month in bed 

* The Leipzig Bachgcsellschaffs publication. 

t From the cantata for contralto solo, Vcrgnugie Ruh', in the 
seventeenth book of cantatas. 
I Vol. xvi., No. 159. 


— an illness in itself apart from pain ! You inquire so 
kindly after our life outside, and whether we have a 
nice 'circle' of friends. I could not help laughing, for 
we are literally as solitary as Florestan ;* and yet not 
quite literally, for we have Dr. Fiedlerf — a splendid, 
really exceptionally fine man, rich in ideas, delicate, 
high-minded, and exceedingly sympathetic in manner : 
we value his acquaintance greatly, and are much 
touched by his persistence in coming to see us. Then 
there is his wife, a bright, kind-hearted woman whose 
devotion to Wagner forms rather a bar to closer in- 
timacy, however; also Levi,t whom one can't help 
liking, in spite of constant wrangling. He is, after 
all, upright and genuine, and, given those qualifica- 
tions, one can put up with most things. He is like 
a Jesuit on the track of heretics, and is for ever preach- 
ing to me the one and only chance of salvation. 
Fanatics invariably practise on us poor women, who 
are supposed to be incapable of resistance ! However, 
as I have parried his blows so far, and kept myself 
well in hand, we have settled down amicably to a 
state of honourable feud. How Levi, with his fine 
musical feeling, could be victimized by so many 
coarser natures is a mystery to me. It is not so 
much his Wagner worship, for he is one of those 
who need a deity before whom they can prostrate 
themselves, but there are various side-issues where 
his usually keen discernment is quite at fault ; and 
his unconditional devotion to Wagner, his insensibility 
to the weak places in Parsifal and other things, are 

* The hero in Fidelio, who was left to languish in a dungeon. 

t A literary man, living at Munich, whose wife afterwards married 

X Hermann Levi (1839-1900), Gcneralmusikdirektor at Munich, was 
intimate with Brahms in the 'sixties and 'seventies. 


hard to understand. Well, at least he did not defend 
the symphony* when I abused it thoroughly as being 
really remarkably meaningless ! 

I have heard next to nothing this winter, as my 
* outings' have to be few and far between. Since the 
middle of December I have not left the sick-room for 
a single evening, in spite of the doctor's frequent 
remonstrances. Who could think of their own 
amusement with anyone so dear as my Heinz is to 
me on their hands, especially in the evening, when 
he depends on me so entirely to read aloud to him 
or encourage him. Some time ago I went out of 
curiosity to see Zollner's Faust.\ Of course the 
whole thing is monstrous from an artistic point of 
view, an incredible undertaking ; but there are 
occasional signs of a remarkable talent gleaming out 
of the mass of shallow^ insipidity. Gretchen's descrip- 
tion of the graves and the mother's head-shaking are 
really thrilling, while the beggar's song is so charming 
that I wrote it down. The figure of Faust is deadly 
dull throughout — how should it be otherwise? Where 
is the mortal who could produce a musical embellish- 
ment worthy of such words, such gold from heaven ? 
And, indeed, who would desire anything so sumptuous? 
There is, as Hanslick points out, little enough of 
'infinite melody' in this work. It is rather Schu- 
mannesque than Wagnerian, with the exception of 
the love-scene, where the fiddles become duly ecstatic 
and semi-hysterical ; for no one seems to venture any 
variation from the Wagnerian tradition in describing 

* The symphony composed by Wagner in 1832 {cf. Letter 45, 

f Heinrich Zolhier (b. 1854) produced a musical drama, founded 
on Goethe's Faust, in 1887. 


the tender passion. Indeed, one of the most pernicious 
results of Wagner's influence is this rejection of the 
fresher, more innocent conception of sensuality for a 
sultry, oppressive atmosphere of supreme desire which 
arouses a kind of evil conscience in the listener — a 
feeling that his presence amounts to an impropriety. 

We are most grateful to you, dear Friend, for trying 
to find a tenant for our poor Liseley. I am enclosing 
a small plan, which I will ask you to give to Professor 
Gomperz (he is not the one Fraulein Bettelheim* 
married, surely ?). If they seriously consider taking 
the little house, I am of course willing to supply any 
information. You might mention that there are eight 
beds and bedsteads complete, and that we have 
fixed the rent at forty pounds. Frau Franz's delicacy 
is touching, but excessive sensitiveness is a luxury 
we cannot afford — an illness is far too expensive 
a matter. 

I am cherishing the hope that we may meet this 
summer, perhaps stay somewhere together. As we 
have to choose as dry a climate as possible, we may 
happen on Switzerland, which you seem to have 
chosen as your headquarters. How I wish I dare 
count on it ! 

March 9. 

There is to be a consultation one of these days 
with the most famous surgeon in Munich — Professor 
Angerer — as to the best treatment for the right leg, 
which now shows unmistakable deformation, and can 
only be put right by mechanical appliances, such as 

* Karoline Bettelheim, operatic singer, married Julius von Gomperz, 
President of the Chamber of Commerce at Briinnaud, brother of 
Professor Gomperz. 


splints. Heinrich's own wish is for energetic handling 
under chloroform ; but our own doctor is afraid of the 
result, as it is impossible to ascertain whether the 
knee has lost all tendency to exudation. In any case, 
poor Heinrich has more trouble before him and a 
lingering malady. Even if the leg can be straightened, 
it can hardly become supple again. You might ask 
Billroth for his experience of mechanical contrivances 
in cases where deformation has set in. I am not 
hopeful ! Professor Angerer is considered a great 
authorit}^, and I shall soon know his opinion. I will 
then write again, my dear Friend, assured as I am of 
your constant, loving sympathy. 

One thing more about Liseley. I suggested to 
Minna Wickenburg* that she might take it — she 
wanted to find something fairly near Munich — and 
am expecting her reply daily. I hardly think it will 
suit her, but I should have to give her the precedence. 
I am writing to-day to tell her she must decide, and 
let you know. Her reply will soon reach you, as she 
is at Gries. 

The Kaiser's death t was a great shock to us. His 
venerable figure had come to be so much a part of our 
lives that we shall find it hard to realize that he 
has left us. I remember so well standing in a close 
crowd in front of the Friedrichsdenkmal on the 22nd 
last year.t All at once his figure appeared in the corner 
window, and a chorus of cheers went up. We saw 
nothing more, for the tears stood in our eyes as we 
told ourselves it was probably the last time. Now 

* Grdfin Wickenburg (c/. Letter 185). 

t The death of Kaiser Wilhelm I. (March 9, i888) had affected 
Brahms deeply also. 

X The celebration of his birthday, March 22. 


he is dead, and the poor Crown Prince* as good as 
dead. How terrible to enter upon such a heritage in 
his condition ! To have spent a lifetime in expectation 
of this moment, and then to be unable to say, 'Stay!' 
It is one of the saddest things the world has ever 

It is strange how nearly these things affect one — 
affect all of us. The proof that we do feel a close 
connection is, after all, consoling. I really pity French 
people. Who is there whose death could affect them 
to the extent of a single tear ? 

But now good-bye. Please do not let your delicacy 
deprive us of the 'excessively gay stuff' f any longer. 
It is the very thing to cheer us poor things, for I will 
admit — in confidence — that we have sunk very, very 

You know how happy we used to be ; for in spite 
of the one great thing fate denied me,t we were 
content, and our minds were as perfectly in accord as 
any two-part harmony. Then came our trial, this long 
bondage — stifling all our freedom and light-hearted- 
ness — from which we find no release. It is not easy 
to keep up, but I try hard ; for what would happen 
if I had not courage for two ! 

Good-bye. Unmarried people are in so far enviable 
that they have only their own calamities to suffer, yet 
I would not change with anyone. 

Write soon, and keep us in your affections, please. 

You know our devotion. 

Elisabet H. 

* Kaiser Friedrich. 

t The Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103. 

I She refers to her childlessness. 


219. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, March ii, 1888.] 

My dear Friend, — What you tell me is all so very 
sad. Let me sympathize in silence, and hope as 
silently. I should have been glad to speak to Billroth, 
and still can ; but it is practically no good, as I know 
from experience. Not knowing and not having seen 
the patient, he will say anything, just as we do when 
people ask us about some young artist whom we 
do not know. 

One thing did delight me exceedingly, and I beg you 
to keep it well in sight — your idea of spending the 
summer in Switzerland too. Could you not say Thun 
at once ? I never noticed any dampness there, as at 
Ischl. Not only I, but other people, sit out of doors 
every evening. 

My house there, which is exceptionally charming, 
and might have been made for you, is at your im- 
mediate disposal. I shall easily find a lodging else- 
where. Be sure and tell me what you propose and 
finally decide to do with regard to this. 

I should be glad to think the enclosed* had provided 
you with an hour's amusement, but 1 fear the humour 
will prove too violent in the quiet, subdued atmosphere 
of your room. But apart from that, I wonder whether 
you will dislike the things ? In any case, please keep 
them quite to yourselves. When you return them, I 
shall certainly be able to respond with some small 
things that are less crude. 

I saw Allgeyer's fine essay,! and also the Feuerbach 

* The manuscript of the Zigeunerlieder. 

t Brahms had persuaded Julius Allgeyer to write an essay on their 
mutually esteemed friend, Anselm Feuerbach, the painter (1829- 1880). 


sketches published recently. Allgeyer will have shown 
you them, no doubt. 

* * utt * Mk 

I have, of course, been much affected by the startling 
events in Germany. It is all on a scale — a tragic scale 
at present — unparalleled in history. 

Kindest messages to poor dear Heinz, and let me 
have a line soon. — Most sincerely yours, 


2 20. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Munich, March 25, 1888. 

My very dear Friend, — I told you, of course, of the 
expected consultation with the principal surgeon here, 
Professor Angerer. It took place on Monday evening, 
and Angerer's verdict was as follows : It can only be 
cured by resorting to operative measures — not the 
slow process of bandaging, nor by forcible extension 
{prisma force), but simply and solely what they are 
pleased to call resection. He considered the knee to 
be in a very serious way, the kneecap partially 
destroyed, and, in short, so far past curing by any 
other means that it had become necessary to employ 
the only radical method. You can imagine how I felt I 
But Angerer announced his views with such conviction, 
and was so reassuring, so certain as to the result, that 
I immediately felt courageous enough to persuade 
Heinrich. But he hardly needed persuading. One 
short, touching struggle with himself, and the next 
morning, when the doctor came, he was able to consent. 

The essay, which subsequently served as a foundation for Allgeyer's 
biography of Feuerbach (1894), was printed in the Austrian Weekly 
Journal of Science and Arty edited by Bruno Bucher, a friend of 


They came on Friday morning at 8.30 — four strong — 
to butcher my poor lamb. The drawing-room was 
arranged as an operating-room. I was there when 
they sent him to sleep ; but then they carried him 
away, and I was not allowed over the threshold of the 
torture-chamber. The wife was left to bear it as well 
as she could. 

Then a strange thing happened. I was prepared 
for the operation to last two or three hours. For the 
first three-quarters there was not a sound from the 
other room, and I thought they were merely preparing 
for the real horror, when suddenly the door opened 
(at 9.30), and the doctors brought him back all neatly 
bandaged. I had a terrible fright, thinking something 
dreadful must have happened to interrupt the opera- 
tion. However, thank God, it was all happily over, 
and Heinrich came to himself again gradually in bed. 
When he asked for our doctor, who had left the room 
for a moment, and I told him how glad he was that 
it had all gone so well and so quickly, the poor fellow 
exclaimed, 'What, is it all over?' and on receiving 
my assurance he burst into tears of joy. You can 
imagine, dear Friend, how one feels at such a moment ; 
it makes up for all the trouble and heartache without 
which one would never have this precious experience. 

Angerer says the operation established beyond all 
doubt the necessity for action, for it showed the worst 
possible necrosis of the kneecap. Part of the patella 
had to be removed too, as the joints did not fit in 
properly ; in short, the leg was doomed in any case. 
Now, if it heals all right, it will be perfectly straight, if 
a little shorter; stiff* it is bound to be. But an illness 
of these dimensions makes one modest, and we are 
grateful for even this much. Heinrich has recovered 



from the operation astonishingly well. His heart and 
his stomach fulfil their functions excellently, and this 
fact stood him in good stead. He has hardly any 
fever, and the doctors are well satisfied. Please tell 
Billroth about it. He will be able to tell you better 
than I how they manage 'resections.' The joints are 
sewn together with catgut, which gradually becomes 
absorbed. That amused Heinz somewhat. He sends 
his very kindest regards. Your dear songs* were 
a great pleasure to him just before. Send something 
else soon. Please tell me where you found the words.f 
The line of the melodies often strikes me as being 
more Bohemian-Dvofakesque than Hungarian. 

Please give our good Epstein the news, also Frau 
Franz and the Fabers. — As of old, your devoted 

E. Herzogenberg. 

221. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, end of March, 1888.] 

My dear Friend, — I rejoice with all my heart to 
hear that you are at last relieved from your terrible 
suspense, and, I hope, from all your misfortunes and 
troubles. He has come out of it all with one leg 
shortened and crippled — well, I think I could accept 
that legacy without any particular grief, only spare 
me the operation and the season of terror beforehand ! 

* The Zigeunerlieder. 

t The words were taken from Hungarian volkslieder, and tran- 
scribed into German rhyme by Hugo Conrat, whose house in Vienna 
Brahms frequented a good deal at the time. The original melodies, 
with Conrat's words underneath, were pubhshed at Buda-Pesth under 
the title Ungarische Liebeslieder : 25 ungarische Volkslieder fiir mittlere 
Siimnie. Klavierbcgleitung von Zoltdn Nagy. 


The other is bearable, and again I rejoice for you that 
the worst is over. 

Thank you also most sincerely for letting me know 
at once, and for your devotion in detailing it all so that 
I can follow in imagination. I shall now be able to 
discuss it with Billroth. 

I suppose your plans and prospects for both summer 
and winter will now change for the better ? 

I am of course glad for the coming symphony- 
composers in Berlin,* but most of all do I desire to 
learn your summer plans. Please tell me as soon as 
you can. I expect Berchtesgaden smiles on you again 
and Thun is quite dropped ? 

Billroth was here just now, and I read your letter 
through with him, and learned, for instance, that patella 
meant kneecap. It is as well though, on the whole, 
that I am not required to set down all his learned 
remarks in writing ! Other news next time. For 
to-day kindest remembrances from your overjoyed 


1 will give Epstein your letter to read this evening. 

222. Elisahet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Munich] March 28, p.m., il 
My dear Friend, — Thank you for your kind letter 
and your charming eagerness in arranging summer 
plans for our benefit, even to the extent of making 
over to us your lovely house at Thun. But, alas ! we 
are still far removed from planning anything definite. 
For the present we have to wait patiently for this big 
wound to heal (so far we have reason to hope for the 

* Meaning Herzogenberg's pupils. 

22 — 2 


best) ; then comes the very slow process of coaxing 
the stiff leg to walk, which will be a matter of weeks ; 
after which we shall find some hot springs to strengthen 
the system and do battle with the * residue ' in the left 
arm and back of the neck — in short, drive out the 
seven devils for good. Not till then can we think of 
a thorough rest. We hope the doctors may advise 
Switzerland, on account of you and my sister and the 
Wachs,* but it is still all so uncertain, and we are 
entirely in the doctors' hands. So take possession 
of your own beautiful house without considering us 
further, dear Friend. Thank you for the very kind 
thought. Think of us still, but do not count on these 
miserable friends of yours for anything. 

These have been dark days for me. The energy 
one summons up to meet the occasion leaves a feeling 
of exaltation to balance one's shattered condition — 
then comes the reaction. The solemn exaltation, which 
attends any great trouble, wears off, and the wearisome 
daily round sets in. Heinrich's excellent constitution 
is my greatest comfort through all this misery. He 
pulled through amazingly after the operation — free 
from fever the third day ! — and is quite normal in 
his appetite and everything ; but what a mountain of 
patience we need to meet all there is to come ! Think 
of the misery of having no rest for another nine or ten 
weeks at least after being in bed so long, the frightful 
pain of sitting down, caused by the continual pressure, 
and the soreness of the heel resulting from his present 
position and the operation. We are, to make it worse, 
left quite to ourselves. The Fiedlers and Levi are 
away, and our friend Allgeyer has no use for any but 
healthy — and wealthy ! — people. 

* Professor Adolf Wach had gone to live near Interiaken. 


On April 4 our doctor forsakes us too, so poor 
Heinrich will be quite dependent on his Fidelio, who 
has frequently to jog her own elbow to keep up to the 

So you see we are not exactly gay here. 

Why don't you write something nice for the dear 
old Kaiser, so that there may be some music worthy 
to honour his memory! Poor Heinz was to have 
written the music for the academic celebrations on 
the 22nd, had the Kaiser lived; of course he gave it 
up regretfully months ago, and now it would have 
been useless. But how many things an invalid does 
have to give up ! 

Please tell me at your convenience — first, whether 
you know Wilhelm Hertz's Spielmmmslieder and 
Tristan^ (written in delightfully pure, healthy German 
that does one's heart good) ; and, second, Stauffer- 
Bern'sf etchings. 

What precious moments of enjoyment one may have 
in spite of everything ! We had saved up Martin 
SalanderX to read until it came out separately, and 
how we revelled in it ! The power of the book reveals 
itself in the ever-increasing sweetness and mellow- 
ness which mark its progress to the end. Where 
should we be now but for these bright spots in our 
lives ? 

* Wilhelm Hertz (1835- 1902), Professor of Literature at the Munich 
Polytechnic, was a member of the Munich ' Crocodile,' a group of 
poets headed by Geibel, Heyse, and Lingg. His Spiehnannsbuch, 
Marie de France, and Tristan und Isolde, were free adaptations in 
verse of old romantic and German originals. 

t Karl Stauffer-Bern (1857-1891), painter, poet, and etcher (see 
Otto Brahms's Karl Stauffer-Bern : Sein Lebcn, Seine Briefe, Seine 

I Novel by Gottfried Keller, which had been coming out in the 
Deutsche Rundschau. 


Please find something new to send us. I am at 
last returning the songs (to-day),* for which many 

Let me know soon what Professor Gomperz decides, 
as I must look round for other tenants if he scorns the 
little house. 

Sincerely, as ever, and with every kindest message 
from my dear, good patient, yours, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

The colouring of ^ Horch^ der Wind klagt^ (the 
G minor song)t is very orginal and charming. I 
should love to chatter my fill about your lovely music, 
but in this, as in so many other matters, I am not my 
own mistress. I have not time enough for the neces- 
sary things. But send us something nice again soon, 
won't you ? 

223. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 22, 1888.] 

I am sorry to say the Gomperzes are not considering 
it, but anyway you cannot be waiting to offer it to 
other people ! I assure you I am always telling people 
about the little house, and I had hoped the Meiningens 
would take it for the greater comfort of the ladies of 
their Court. I wish I had anything nice to amuse you 
with, either my own or anyone else's ; but wherever 
my glance strays I see waste and desolation. A thou- 
sand good wishes for May Day and the whole summer. 

— Sincerely yours, 

J. Br. 
* Zigeunerlieder. t No. 8. 


224. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Thun, June 7, 1888.] 
Are you still at this address,* and how is Heinz ? 
Since I wrote I have had the most beautiful time in 
Italy, on both coasts and in Rome.f If I had not such 
endless letters and things lying before me, I would 
tell you how splendid it was. I want so much to 
know how you both are. Do write — as much as you 
can spare time for (address Thun, simply). I am 
installed in my old pretty rooms, which always seem 
to me to be made for you. — Ever yours, ^ p. 

225. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

Thun, June 12, 1888. 

Had I known sooner of your plan of going to St.,t 
I should have been much tempted to go there myself. 
As it is, I must content myself with urging you to 
carry it out, which I can do the more happily for 
knowing how many old friends you will meet there. 

I can tell you nothing definite, except that the 
concerto § will probably be put into the second day. 
After that it will find its way to you at home. It has 
been too shy to go before. 

* The card is addressed to Munich, Hess Strasse 30. 

t Brahms had spent the month of May in Italy. It was his sixth 
visit to that country. He met a friend, Widmann, at Verona, who 
was able to act as guide to many hitherto unexplored towns. Brahms 
then returned with him to Thun for the summer. Widmann's Brahms- 
Erinnerungen (pp. 144-158) includes a charming description of some 
incidents of their travels through Bologna, Rimini, San Marino, 
Ancona, Loretto, Rome (Frascati, Tivoli, and d'Anzio), and Florence. 

+ Stuttgart. 

§ The double concerto (Op. 102) was performed by Joachim and 
Hausmann on the second day of the festival Qune, 1888), under 
Immanuel Faisst's direction. 


Do arrange accordingly, and permit yourselves this 
recreation and change at Stuttgart. — Kindest messages 
to your Heinz, and drop a line later on to yours, 

J. Br. 

N.B. — I have been av^^ay for a few days 

226. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, September, 1888.] 

Dear Lady, — Your letter found me here in Vienna. 
It v^as at Thun — and you at Basel — while I was 
pottering in Berne and Zurich on the way home ! 
But I will not pursue this unprofitable subject. It is 
all too annoying. Your card means a long farewell, 
and letter-writing is, as far as I am concerned, a poor 

But I must have your address in any case, and — 
but I think you will agree with me that it is never 
any good talking. Only let me know how things are 
occasionally. Everyone who knows you is full of 
interest and sympathy. As for me, I rank with the 

If I should be sending you a few worthless books 
of songs, you may leave them behind when you go 
away. It will perhaps interest you to know that I 
have again collided with Heinz — I have been trying 
my hand at Groth's Herbst* It is a difficult thing 
to tackle — difficult and dull ! 

I am unpacking and confusion reigns ; forgive this 

untidy sheet. Do please send word to, and think as 

kindly as you can of, yours very sincerely, 

J. Br. 

* Im Herbst, Op. 104, No. 5. 


227. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Lugano, September 22, 1888. 

My very dear Friend, — Your kind words, forwarded 
to me here, where we are making a halt, have made 
me very sad and reflective. You cannot feel as vividly 
as we can (or perhaps you can ?) how unreasonable it 
is that we should spend so little of our short lives 
together. Don't think me presumptuous, please, if 
I choose seriously to think you cannot have many 
friends who have a much greater claim to see a good 
deal of you. Certainly no one is better able to 
appreciate you, both from the artistic and the human 
sides, and yet, when at the end we come to add up 
the days we have spent together, what will the total 
be ? If an improvement were possible, if 3^ou were 
inclined to regret it, too, sometimes, ways and means 
might be found. We relied on your writing to us 
before going home, and it is a real grief to find we 
missed you at Basel. 

Our address at Nice is Boulevard Carabacel 27. 

We found a particularly well-recommended house 
there, facing south and properly heated, and that was 
mainly what brought us to this sudden decision. I 
hope soon (we shall be there the day after to-morrow) 
to receive your songs, and shall then — if I may — 
chatter to you a little, although you did give me a 
plain hint to-day that it was * never any good talking.' 
If only you were not quite so convinced of that! If 
you knew how one learns to appreciate real worth, 
kindness, and affection, in such hard times as we have 
been through, you would not be so chary of your 
words, but would let us hear your written voice a little 
oftener. You must know that you write not only 


easily, but well, and that every letter you send us is 
a precious gift. The fact is, we love you very much, 
dear Friend ; and that being so, you might really take 
your share of the inconvenience ! 

You will send the songs as soon as possible, then, 
and I may hold forth at will? I have much more 
time now. The man we have had to engage proves — 
almost to my sorrow — to be an excellent nurse, and 
relieves me of all my duties. Heinz is slowly learning 
to use crutches, and is, as usual, trying to make the 
best of things. I fear I sometimes feel like crying 
for the moon. I am of the earth earthy, and can't 
help longing to be happy and light-hearted again. 
This craving for happiness is after all a common 

You go to Italy every year ; could you not come to 
Nice ? How happy you would make your faithful 

Herzogenbergs ! 

228. Elisahet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Nice, Boulevard Carabacel 9, 
October, 1888.] 

Is it my imagination, or am I right in thinking my 
letter to you from Lugano was of the sort that a nice 
person would answer — unless, indeed, he wished the 
poor writer to think she had gone too far, been guilty 
of presumption, and reckoned without her host ? 

You might have found time to send me a line, dear 
Friend. I shall soon begin to think all sorts of things ! 
I do so want to be assured that you still like us, 
and mean well by us. And where are the songs 
which I am so looking forward to trying over on my 
Erard ? 


You will send a kind message and a beautiful song 

and a clasp of the hand, won't you ? to yours always 


Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

229. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, October, 1888.] 

Dear, dear Lady, — Every letter of yours is of the 
sort that — one is overjoyed to receive, and would 
certainly like to answer as it deserves. But did I 
really not label my note 'preliminary'? Then I will 
do so now ; and let me insist that, whatever I do, no 
one has the right to take offence, little as I deserve 
such kind consideration. 

Again, one might go on feeling injured for ever, so 
much better not begin. 

But you ought to know and believe that you are one 
of the few people one likes more — as your husband is 
sure to see this — than one dare say. But, then, he is 
also one of the said few ! 

And, by the way, Karl Spitteler* was complaining 
in the summer that you had not replied to some parcel 
or letter of his, and that he did not care to write again 
in consequence ! Let him send you his article on 
Schubert's sonatas,! which is not at all stupid. 

Your good intention of writing me at length on the 
receipt of my next parcel will probably be frustrated 
by the nature of the latter. How I should like to be 

* Karl Spitteler (b. 1845), a Swiss poet, writing under the pseudonym 
' Felix Tandem,' had published several poems, and (since 1866) edited 
the Schweizerische Grenzpost at Basel. He made the acquaintance of 
Brahms through their mutual friend Widmann. 

t The essay appeared in the Grenzpost, and was included later in 
Spitteler's book Lachende Wahrheiten. 


thanking you for a lengthy epistle ! But you will not 
even find anything to scold me about. 

I don't know Nice and your part of the Riviera at 
all, but only the other side. Nice does not count as 
Italy, or come into an Italian tour, though, and to me 
its extreme fashionableness would make it impossible. 

But I may think of your stay there as the pleasantest 
and most cheerful you have had anywhere for a long 

Make some real nice plans for the summer, choosing 
some beautiful Austrian place, if possible. In which 
case I hope to be there. — Yours most sincerely, 

J. Br. 

230. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Nice] October 13, 1888. 

There was a nice kind letter again ! It made me 
so happy. Thank you more than I can say for every 
kind word. You don't realize how important it is not 
to avoid the obvious too scrupulously. Life would be 
greatly impoverished if everyone practised this saving 
plan, already adopted by so many ! You do not hesi- 
tate to use the same beloved formulas again and again 
in your art, yet in human intercourse such a craze for 
brevity prevails that it requires something like courage 
to be as persistently loquacious as I am. Therefore 
I must thank you again for your eloquent letter and 
for counting us among 'the few.' Believe me, your 
confidence is not misplaced. 

Karl Spitteler is no friend of mine. How can you 
bring him into the comparison ? I am nothing to him ! 
I admit, though, there is the more need for politeness 
on that account. But in such dark days as those at 


Wittelsbach one gives no thought to superficialities, 
but reserves any leisure and spirit one has for real 
friends. To set matters right, I did look him up at 
Basel, but he was out. When he returned my call, 
I was again quite at a loss to place him. I have rarely 
seen such a chameleon. He appears to have abso- 
lutely no refinement of speech, and yet there is some- 
thing in his writing which betrays a highly cultivated 

Your delightful big parcel of music came to-day, 
and will soon produce a letter in which I shall say 
anything that comes first, just as I feel it. How 
splendid to have all this pile to look through and 
appropriate to oneself! I value the Zigeunerlieder 
twice as much for having seen them in undress first. 
If you would but give me that pleasure oftener! 

Amanda Rontgen* is one of our household here; 
that is, she has the rooms above ours, and will join 
with us in the new Brahms orgy. The poor little 
woman is hoping to cure her affected lung here, and 
later at Ospedaletti. Our dear Dr. Schmid,t who 
attended us at Munich, is here just now, and has 
examined her. Unfortunately, he was only able to 
confirm the unfavourable report of her other doctors. 
Poor things ! it is terribly sad to see this cloud on 
their young happiness. She is so forlorn with it all, 
so helplessly ignorant of all the practical side of life, 
a lily of the field, set all at once to sow and reap. I 
am glad I was permitted to take her under my wing 
here ; it made the beginning less hard for her. Really, 
I am so amazingly robust myself that I can risk any 
worry, any exertion, now. 

* Wife of Julius Rontgen. Her illness proved incurable, 
t Hofrat Dr. Adolf Schmid. 


Nice fashionable ? So much so that I go marketing 
every morning with an empty basket, as my cook has 
not time, and return with an armful of glorious vege- 
tables and fruit, from under which, as often as not, 
a sturdy chicken leg peeps out. So fashionable is 
Nice ! and so well am I in this steely and yet mild air, 
that I am equal to that and much more ; whereas before 
I could not carry a pound's weight without gasping. 
I will not expatiate on the beauty of the neighbour- 
hood, as I am bad at descriptions, but will only say 
I never saw anything to equal it. It might be stage 
scenery for Gluck's operas ! But the figures for such 
a landscape should be of noble build, draped in flowing 
garments, or lovely naked Cupids, Bacchus trains — 
anything to heighten the natural picturesqueness — not 
the feeble, oppressed race one actually sees here. It 
seems the real population, the influx of visitors, has 
not yet arrived. We never see anyone when we go 
through the town, but one is conscious of all the 
lurking ugliness and deformity, which would be de- 
pressing enough if one thought about it. But the 
dazzling, indestructible beauty of the place is far too 
absorbing, and at present we are constantly agape 
with delight. Indeed, we should be almost happy but 
that poor Heinrich is half a cripple, dear Friend ; and 
if his condition remains unchanged we shall hardly 
have reason to be gay. But Dr. Schmid, my consoler, 
hopes for certain that much more may be done by 
mild, or possibly vigorous, treatment. The deforma- 
tions in the neck and the left arm will have to be 
fractured, but I shall soon hear more definitely from 

Believe me, it is difficult to bear up. I could tell 
you of nights spent in misery; but I want to keep 


the bright side uppermost as far as possible when I 
tell you of ourselves. 

Good-bye for to-day, and auf Wiedersehen this even- 
ing at the piano, when I dive into your dear music. 

Think of me occasionally. — Your devoted 

LisL Herzogenberg. 
Please tell me our good Frau Franz's address. 

231. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, October 21, 1888.] 

Frau Franz lives at No. 8, Elisabetstrasse. Many 
thanks for your kind letter. I am tempted to send 
you another trifle *in undress.' But are you sure you 
don't mind packing it up and returning it? And 
really, this time, it is not worth the trouble. So 
Frau Rontgen is with you ! Please remember me 
very kindly to her. Useless to enclose a violin part 
for her, I suppose ?* Fate might have dealt more 
kindly with that poor little couple. They cannot, 
like Frau Schumann, look back triumphantly on a 
long life and some very hard blows. I am afraid he 
will not get on any better in Amsterdam this winter. 
Billroth tried to find you at Munich ; he wanted to 
view the landscape of leg and arm. 

Forgive me, and accept kindest remembrances from 



* He sent both the violin part and the piano score of the violin 
sonata in D minor (Op. io8). It had been completed at Thun in 1886, 
but Brahms chose to hold it back. It was published in 1889, with a 
dedication to Biilow. 


232. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms, 

Nice, October 28, i{ 
My dear Friend, — If I sit down to-day to talk about 
your last parcel of music, it is in the confidence that 
the person for whom you professed a liking in your 
last charming letter may allow herself some liberties, 
and that you will prefer even the most misguided of 
her remarks to pretty speeches. I am so fond of you 
and your music that 1 am incapable of humbugging 
you ; consequently I am reduced to blurting out all 
I have on my mind. You see, I have no greater 
pleasure than the enjoyment of your music, and when 
I cannot enjoy it I feel as if I had been done out of 
something. You cannot take it as presumption if I 
am quite open about it, and you must please believe 
that any other course is impossible to me, if only for 
my own sake. I should not dare to dwell on the 
things which arouse my enthusiasm among the 
selection,* were I to be silent as to those which fail 
to touch me. I have played them all many times, and 
each time the impression grew in intensity. I will set 
it down just as it came to me. 

In Op. 104 we both fixed on the second Nachtwacke,\ 
at the first glance, as a pearl among the part-songs, 
and it found its way right into our hearts on hearing 
it. It is inspired from first to last, warm with the 
glow of sunset and the ring of bugles ; the entry of 
every fresh voice is a delight in itself, and its soft 
fulness, combined with its austerity, makes it a perfect 
jewel. Our next immediate favourite is Im Herbst;\ 

* Songs, Op. 104-107, published in 1889. 

t Funf Gesdnge fur gemischten Chor^ a capella, Op. 104, No. 2. 

X Op. 104, No. 5. 

SONGS 353 

with its thrilling third verse. How beautifully you 
treat ^ er ahnt,' how satisfying is its progress, and how 
daring from the point of view of harmony ! Then 
the whole piece is so concentrated, the tone so well 
sustained. On the other hand, the little string quartet 
in D minor* quite eludes me. It fails to charm from 
any point of view, and the seventh bar on the first 
page (or the third, on the last but one) positively 
hurts me ; the E flat, which the two outer parts reach 
simultaneously, strikes me as cruel, although I can 
imagine you intended a comma between the second 
and third crotchets, and considered the E flat merely 
in its relation to the next bar. But an ordinary mortal 
(not Bulow-Riemannt-Westphalt trained) gets a shock 
from which he takes time to recover. The first Nacht- 
wache^ would have more chance if she had not so 
dangerous a rival in the second, which promptly 
spoils one for anything less perfect. And here is 
another case where the critic within pricks up his 
ears, and asks whether these delicate but rather 
pianistic than chorally inspired entries will ever 
sound perfectly in tune and natural. Now, in the 
other, one has never a moment for criticizing; the 
feeling of pure enjoyment in the possession of such 
beauty and originality is too strong. * This is the 
Brahms I like ; I can surrender wholly to a mind 

* ' Verlorene Jugend,' Op. 104, No. 4. By the expression ' string 
quartet,' the writer conveys her disapproval of the instrumental rather 
than vocal treatment of the voices. 

t Hugo Riemann (b. 1849), theorist and lexicographer, well-known 
writer on music, published in 1884 his Musikalische Dynamik nnd 
Agogik (strongly influenced by Westphal's Theory of Rhythm since 
Bach), followed by Praktische Einleitung zum Phrasicren in 1886 and 
a textbook on harmony in 1887. 

X Rudolf Westphal (1826-1892), theorist and writer on music. 

§ Op. 104, No. I. 




like this.'* But this same Brahms is not quite him- 
self in the other one, or else I am lacking in the 
particular sense needed to take it in. ' Letztes Gliick'^ 
is another that gives me little satisfaction, although I 
think I am able to appreciate every finely worked out 
detail : the tenor catching up the theme from the 
soprano, the sighing quaver-rests, and the charming, 
subdued tone of the whole. But if you will spoil us 
so dreadfully with your very best, how can we do 
justice to anything falhng short of that perfection! 
And why don't you indulge in a hideous harmony, 
like this one at the end, 

oftener, so that our ears might grow accustomed to it ! 
You have trained us to think a simple chord of the 
7th, with a single, not double, suspension on the G, 
more melodious and satisfying in a case like this. 
Can you blame us for applying the same standard to 
every new work of yours, particularly when, as in 
the Nachtwache, you give us a fresh glimpse into the 
highest spheres. 

It is the same with the other songs. Now tell me, 
is it really all our fault if the Kirchho/song^ provokes 

* A paraphrase from Faust's last monologue (II.). 

t Op. 104, No. 3. I P. 17 of the above, bar 10. 

§ Op. 105, No. 4. 

SONGS 355 

a burst of enthusiasm while the rest receive but a chilly 
welcome ? Believe me, dear, dear Friend, your truest 
friends are not those who greet every new volume of 
your music impartially, with rapture, before even scan- 
ning the contents. I know some of these indiscrim- 
inating Brahmsianer who go into ecstasies at the very 
sight of your name on the cover; they must have some 
fetish to worship, poor things I even though they have 
no intimate connection with it and are often without 
a glimmering of its real significance. Now I know 
that your music is a real force which has found in me 
'an abiding city,' and just because of this inviolable 
possession, just because I look up to you with such 
intense gratitude, I find the courage to tell you when 
I am unable to follow, when your music awakens no 
response. And just because I am so strongly predis- 
posed to enthusiasm, so hotly prejudiced, I might say, 
in favour of this same Brahms, I often ask myself — 
softly, discreetly, but I do ask — whether he does not 
sometimes produce things born, not of his heart's 
blood, but only — as I ventured to say once before — 
of his cleverness, his routine, his supreme skill ; while 
the impulse which stamps the thing produced as in- 
evitable, enduring for all time, is entirely lacking. 

Believe me, I do not write without deep emotion, 
without the fullest consciousness of the liberty your 
great kindness and friendship so graciously extends 
to me ; believe, too, that I never respect you more 
sincerely than when I say these impossible things I 
But to return to the Kirchhof, I must say some more 
about the glorious thing, with its distinctive colouring, 
its perfect co-operation of words and music. The 
harp-like pathos of the very opening bars gives the 
key to its character. The declamation of the first verse 



is perfect, and how touching is the phrase ' uberwach- 
senen Namen^ how intensified the accent at ^ gewesen^^ 
where the modulation is as surprising as it is legiti- 
mate ! Then comes the delicious lull where it falls 
into C major* with those even crotchets; that pause 
on ^ schliimmerfen\' that exquisite lift at *5////,' the 
exquisite line of the whole melody — all this is so 
powerful, so original, and so mature, such real music 
of so superior an order, that one would be content to 
hear nothing else for a long time. But to turn the 
page and be confronted with that Mannsbild,] that 
skulking figure of a man, is to be brought back to 
earth with a thump. Oh, how could you think this 
poem worthy of being composed by you ! I cannot 
understand. An unattractive, dry, cheaply popular 
ditty with its barren heath — barren enough it seems 
to me ! Are all the good poems really so used up that 
you must fall back on such skim-milk or on Lemcke's 
' cold devils '?J How glad I am to think that I always 
detested Lemcke ; I now know why. Heyse's little 
Mddchenlied\ is Goethe by comparison, and one can 
breathe sweet, pure air again. What sweet music you 
have woven about it, too ! It is all so fine and dainty, 
so exceedingly attractive to the musician, with its tonic 
turning into a dominant in the last bar of the melody. 
Its plaintive yearning is so pleasing, and our ears are 
flattered by a newness which has yet nothing strange. 
The one in E flat|| immediately before it is sure to be 

* P. 15, bar 9. The writer does not appear to be aware that this 
is taken from the chorale ' Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.' 

t Verrafh, Op. 105, No. 5, ' Mein Schatz Hess sacht ein Mannsbild 

I Salamander, Op. 107, No. 2. Words of both songs are by 
Karl Lemcke. 

§ Op. 107, No. 5. {| Maienkatzchen, Op. 107, No. 4. 

SONGS 357 

popular, as such contrasts always are ; similarly the 
Swallow song,* the words of which are again spoilt 
for me by that ^ alter Mann.'' It makes a pretty enough 
piano piece, however. The ' proud ' onef gives me the 
unshakeable impression that old Flemming conceived 
of her as quite a different person. I can't reconcile 
words and music. 

Meine LiederX is quite my favourite in Op. io6. 
Who could resist an^^thing so dainty, its fine gold 
tracery and the added fervour which those sustained 
bass notes give to the closing sentences — an effect 
which never fails with me ! I do so enjoy anything 
like that. The lVanderer^\ again, is one of those I 
am too cold-blooded to accept entirely, in spite of the 
beautiful modulation on the second page. I can't help 
complaining that I have heard some Brahms like it 
before, though more vigorously and convincingly ex- 
pressed — when to please me he ought to surpass 
himself each time. I am as ambitious as Macbeth 
for those I love, you see. Amanda Rontgen and I 
play Auf dem See\ together; it sounds charming on 
the fiddle — better then sung, I almost think. That must 
be a slip on the last page, where there is a D sharp 
in the second bar ? Surely it should be D natural 1\ 
Rocky as this particular part is, I expect everybody 
will play D sharp, and few will rejoice in it. For my 
part, I should picture a ' floating Eden ' less bristling 
and without this array of obstacles in the harmony. 

* Das Mddchen spricht, Op. 107, No. 3 (' Schwalbe, sag" miran, ist's 
dein alter Mann f). 
f An die Stolze, Op. 107, No. i. Words by Paul Flemming. 

I Op. 106, No. 4. § Op. 106, No. 5. 

II Op. 106, No. 2. 

^ P. 10, bar 2. Brahms subsequently inserted a natural before the 
D in his own copy. 


What shall I say about Stdndchen?* As I glance 
over it, I see it stamped with the charm and originality 
which you are always able to impart with a turn of 
the hand ; and yet it seems more of a Brahms manu- 
facture than a Brahms inspiration. I cannot warm 
to it — as I am obliged to confess, now that I am on 
the stool of repentance. In Klaus Groth's ^ Es king 
der Reif\ I find the \ rhythm disturbing ; heard in 
conjunction with the never-failing minim, it gives an 
effect of indolence and immense difficulty. Try sing- 
ing it yourself, very legato^ and you will see what I 

There still remains to say that I like No. 3 in 
Op. io5t very much. The two first are, of course, 
old favourites — not that I shall ever be reconciled 
to that succession of chords of the \ in the C sharp 
minor !§ 

The more I play the Zigeunerlieder^ the more I love 
them. You were quite right in thinking I should not 
be able to put enough fire into them in the sick-room 
to enjoy them thoroughly. They are so gloriously 
alive — rushing, throbbing, stamping along, then settling 
down to a smooth, gentle flow. We cannot try them 
properly in this beautiful uncivilized spot, and it is 
a sore deprivation. Yet I have a vivid idea of how 
they all sound ; the two first numbers aglow with 
life, the charming humour of No. 6, the adorable 
melancholy fervour of the next one in E flat — I am 
always moved to tears in the second part, then the 
whispering G minor with its strange colouring I How 
opportunely the solo voice separates itself from the 

* Der Mond steht iiber dent Berge, Op. 106, No. i, 
+ Op. 106, No. 3. X Klage. 

§ Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer. 

SONGS 359 

rest, and how refreshing is the re-entry! How 
delightful it would be to arrange a really good per- 
formance of this fine work by a few music-lovers ! 
I look forward to next winter for this sort of enjoy- 

Dearest Friend, I know I ought to stop, but let me 
sum it all up once more : I love and admire your 
music more than ever, but my very admiration leads 
me to ask why one who has coined and still can coin 
such gold [Nachtwache^ Kirchhoflied^ etc.) should be 
so sparing with it, and why we should be put off 
with silver — music that is never devoid of worth 
and charm, considered on its own merits, but un- 
satisfying in that it comes from the magician who 
has accustomed us to the very best. 

One thing more. If my letter angers you, fling it 
into the darkest, dustiest corner of your room, but 
not the writer along with it! Or if you should do 
so on the impulse of the moment, fish her out again 
after a time, and tell her that you have not quite 
lost patience with her, and are not going to with- 
draw your friendship — have even, perhaps, no desire 
to do so. 

Yesterday I bought a Reclam edition of Platen,* 
and rejoiced in the two or three glorious poems in 
the collection. I took * Wie rafff ich mich auf to the 
piano, and there I recalled your exquisite songf note 
for note, to my joy and happiness. I have, of course, 
practically no music here, and can have none sent, 
as it is all stored away in the attics in Berlin. Under 
these conditions I make bold to ask if there is any- 
thing you do not want — songs, or the G major sonata 

* Graf August Platen (1796-1835), poet, 
t Brahms, Op. 32, No, i, 


or anything whatsoever — which you could pack up and 

send to Nice, thereby making us very happy? Some 

things I cannot remember, and I rack my brains 

distractedly. Nothing is to be had here except the 

Hungarian Dances — and any amount of French trash. 

Bizet excepted, it is all so impossible to us ; even 

the more modern Delibes* is dreadful. Thank God 

one belongs to Germany and is your countrywoman ! 

— Your most faithful and devoted 

L. H. 

233. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Nice, Ociober, 30, i\ 

My dear Friend, — This 30th of October will long 
be green in my memory. I cannot tell you how I felt 
when the dear, fat roll of music t was brought in this 
morning. We were still at breakfast, and my heart 
beat fast as I cautiously extracted the kernel from 
its shell. Heinrich wanted to tear the manuscript 
from me ; but I held it tight, and ran straight up to 
Amanda's room, where — more or less jnal coiffees^ but 
full of joyous expectancy — we sat down to play it 
at once. 

We got into the spirit of it immediately, feeling your 
spell upon us. Our eyes flew from bar to bar, our 
zeal and delight grew from page to page, our fingers 
tackled every difficulty with such success that I hardly 
knew myself. We grasped each successive beauty, 
feeling quite at home in spite of the startling sense 
of novelty which a first movement invariably produces. 

* Leo Delibes (1836-1891), composer of opera {Lc roi I'a dit, 
Lakme, etc.) and ballet {Coppelia, Sylvia). 
t The manuscript of the violin sonata in D minor, Op. 108. 


At the opening of the development* we quite caught 
our breath. How new it is, with that exquisite pedal- 
note absorbing everything ! How our surprise and 
delight grew and grew as the A showed no sign of 
giving way, but held its own through all the glorious 
tissue woven above it ! How my left thumb revelled 
in the pressure it had to exert ! And that F sharp 
minor on that Proteus A,t and the gradual ebbing 
until the theme's subdued return — molto legato. O 
my friend, that was indeed one of your moments! 
Not that you ought to take all the credit, for it 
was borne in to you on that tide * das flutend strbmt 
gesteigerte Gestalten.'' % How happy, how happy this 
piece makes me! I feel so glad, too, that I kept back 
nothing of what I felt the other day, for it gives me 
the more freedom to express all my present delight. 

It is still too new to write quite fully, but I must 
dwell on one or two points ; the delicious tranquillo of 
the coda,§ and the shorter pedal -note|| at the end, 
emphasizing the structure of the sonata -form and 
welding the two pedal-notes, A and D, into one golden 
ring. And how one's heart goes out to the last page ; 
to those sustained notes on the violin which combine 
with the left-hand minims on the piano in such 
beautiful contrary movement! How it vibrates with 
emotion, how it grows in intensity at the ritennfo, 
reaching its climax where the pedal-note ends and the 
violin becomes chromatic ! When we had reached that 
point we exchanged comprehensive looks, we three, 
and our looks would have told you much that you 
would like to hear. Would that I had you here and 

* P. 6, bar 13. t P. 7, bar 19. 

X Goethe. § P. 12, bar 19. 

II P. 12, bar 19, etc. 


could press your hand in gratitude for this great gift, 
and seat you at the piano to hear you play it through 
to a fine rumbling accompaniment of your own making ! 
What delights me so in this sonata is its wonderful 
unity. The four movements are so unmistakably 
members of one family. One purpose dominates 
them, one colour scheme embraces them all ; yet 
their vitality finds expression in such various ways. 

I rejoiced to find the Adagio undisturbed by any 
middle part, for, as I have often admitted, however 
nice the middle parts are, I never can enthuse over 
them. That kind of contrast almost always strikes 
me as artificial, and my chief pleasure in an Adagio 
is its continuity of emotion. For that reason this 
compact movement, so expressive in its contracted 
form, pleases me particularly. What a fine contrast 
those clashing chords form to the broad flowing line 
of the melody, and how beautiful it sounds! How 
comical (in the best sense, for one laughs for very 
pleasure) is the Presto ! how amazingly original in its 
breathless hurry, how merry, how humorous and 
how rich in every line ! The piano part is so charm- 
ingly wTitten, a pleasure from first to last, and so play- 
able, with all its colour-eff'ects, that one can almost 
manipulate it at the first reading. We literally 
laughed for pleasure over this movement, and yet 
how perfectly in keeping with the rest it is ! It does 
no violence to one's mood, but is the natural relaxation 
of a mind which has just been strained to the utmost 
seriousness. The presto of the Finale is the most 
difficult to grasp at first, but one feels at once how 
good it is going to be and how fitting a crown to the 
whole ; and it has in the highest degree the one quality 
essential to a Finale — an irresistible impetus. It tears 


along like Aurora's steeds in the glorious picture,* and 
gives one no rest until the soothing second subject 
comes in with such fine solemnity. Short as my 
acquaintance has been, I took in that beautiful passing- 
note D, where the violin comes in in the third bar, 
from the first ;t also the lovely pp passages and the 
crescendo in the development. How delightful they 
are to play, too, excepting the last bit, which is rather 
cruel ! We played on and on in a tumult of delight, 
and paused at last with flushed cheeks, restraining 
ourselves with an effort from beginning all over again. 
We could not have done it on Amanda's account; that 
is reserved for this evening, and we are rejoicing in 
the prospect meanwhile. I had to write you these 
few words, which are at least better than a telegram, 
to let you know what a festival we are having to-day. 

Let me thank you, dearest Friend — thank you for 
your good deed in sending us the sonata, and thank 
you for writing it and giving us only of your best. 
Even Lady Macbeth's ambition is satisfied ! 

You are not angry with me for the other day, are 
you ? And you do understand that it is just my very 
sincere admiration for you which makes it impossible 
for me to do otherwise ? All the more do I delight in 
my feelings to-da3^ — Your grateful and devoted 

LiSL Herzogenberg. 

You will forgive the slovenliness of these prestissimo 
scribbled lines ? I could not wait to think over what 
I should say, and the result is a mass of slips and 

* Guido Reni's fresco in the Rospigliosi Palace in Rome. Brahms 
had a copy of Rafael Morghen's engraving in his music-room in 

t Op. 108, p. 24, bar 30. 


234. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, November 3, 1888.] 

Dear Lady, — A thousand thanks ; but greatly as the 
sonata letter delighted me, I am far more inclined to be 
suspicious about it than the other;* neither did I 
expect to hear you say such nice things about the 
Zigeunerlieder. I prefer to consider it an error of 
judgment rather than a case of hypocrisy, however, 
so for the present accept my sincere though hasty 

I have just written to Frau Schumann. In case she 
should want the sonata, please send it her at once. 
We can see about a copy afterwards. 

I doubt whether there is anything you would care 
about among my things. 1 have only a few trans- 
positions and arrangements lying by. If you will 
mention any special piece (as the first violin sonata), 
I will try and get it. It would be easier for you than 
for me to ask Astor for the Platenf things. 

Once more best thanks, and if you should have 
made the last letter too sugary from sheer kindness, 
send the pepper-box after it. — Your grateful 

J OH. Br. 

235. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Nice, November 6, 1888.] 

My dear Friend, — I am quite touched by the arrival 
just now of the dear old G major sonata.| It is surely 

* Letter 232. 

t Op. 32 (including Platen's *Wie rafft' ich mich auf,' to which 
reference is made in Letter 232) was published by Rieter-Biedermann 

% Op. 78. Brahms had sent it off before his letter on the 3rd. 


a sign that you are not angry with me, after all. My 
very best thanks. 

I know the D minor sonata by heart now, to my 
great joy. It is an indescribable pleasure to absorb it 
into one's self and then play it quite out of one's head. 
Amanda Rontgen and I kept on smiling at each other 
when we found we knew even the last movement 
to-day. But the development gives us considerable 
trouble, and I do beg you will look at those syncopa- 
tions* again, and see if you could not alter them a 
little ; I mean from B flat minor onwards, and particu- 
larly the bars where the bass has the theme in C sharp 
minor.t It is more comprehensible in the big crescendo 
afterwards, where the swing and breadth of movement 
are a help. But the C sharp minor part is complicated 
by the unfavourable position of some of the important 
notes of the harmony given to the fiddle. It is really 
quite a blot on the movement, which is so glorious 
and so efifective as a whole. Then, again, one has to 
struggle and pant to keep in, because there is so often 
nothing to mark the strong beats in those bars. It 
would be just the same, I believe, no matter how good 
the violinist, and it is such a pity to let that one place 
spoil the effect, when the rest of the movement sounds 
so well. It is one of those episodes that only musicians 
will understand, and that is not desirable, is it ? 

I have one other proposal : that you should make 
the chords in the Scherzo pizzicato. It sounds as well 
again.t Played arco^ that part becomes abstract too ; 

* Op. 108, p. 28. 

t P. 28, bars I and 9. Brahms did not alter this extremely difficult 

X Brahms followed this suggestion in part. In the repetition 
(p. 20, bar 21) the vioHn chords are marked pizzicato ; on the other 
hand, the vioUnist finds special legato marks in the beginning to show 


you hear notes, but no connected sound, and it makes 
it difficult to trace the continuation when the whole 
passage is so complicated in itself. I always add the 
top note on to my own chord, which makes it much 
clearer. Here at Number 27, Carabacel, it does not 
seem to matter if I take such liberties ! 

ft » 


If it is left to the violin it is all too shadowy, and 
although it sounds more real played pizzicato, the 
doubling does no harm even then. Please tell me 
if you agree about Xh^ pizzicato, or if you think it all 

Let me thank you once more for this glorious 
piece, whose beauties now lie fully revealed before 
me. The construction seems to me more and more 
wonderful. If it were not so exquisitely compact, 
proportioned like the facade of some romanesque 
church, how could one commit it to memory so 
quickly? . . .f 

236. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg, 

[Vienna, 'November 6, 1888.^] 

It seems I did not write clearly to Frau Schumann. 
She asks me to request you to send her the sonata 

that the chords are to be played as broadly as possible, and, of course, 
with the bow. It is perfectly in keeping with the con sentimento 
which modifies the un poco presto of the signature. 

♦ P. 17, bar 9.— Tr. 

t The second sheet of the letter is lost. 

X Letters 234 and 235 appear to have crossed in the post. 


immediately^ which I now do, with a sffz* by way of 

emphasis. She is going to Berlin very soon, and 

would like to play it with Joachim ; and she is so 

conscientious as to want to prepare it thoroughly. — 

Kindest regards to you all from yours, 

J. Br. 

237. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

[Nice, 'November 8, 1888.] 

My very dear Friend, — Forgive me for bothering 
you again so soon, but I must ask whether the dis- 
crepancy between the original * bridge ' leading to 
the second subject and the parallel passage later is 
deliberate or accidental ? You remember, the first 
time it is — 

-•-^ ^ 1-— 1 



-1 .^z z te te 





and the second time, where, to be consistent, B flat 
major should be followed by C, the sentence begins 
with A major.f Please do you mind explaining? I 
still have no message from Frau Schumann, so am 
keeping the sonata ; but ought I to have despatched 
it to Frankfurt before? If only Joachim might have 
it soon ! I cannot say how badly I have wanted him 
just now, with all due respect to the musical Amanda. 
One thing more : in the 6th and 7th bars of the 
Finale you change the harmonies in the piano part, 

* To indicate the strongest possible sforzato. 

t Op. 108, p. 4, bar 12. \ P. 10, bar 3. — Tr. 


but }tot in the parallel passage.* I thought I would 
just tell you. Personally I am glad, and should even 
prefer a simple augmented triad (F, A, CiJ) to accom- 
pany the F on the fiddle, instead of that E, which 
always sounds like a mistake. Until you forbid me, 
I shall continue to play — 

-€- -€-—-€- 

^^ I -t- l-t- 

The more I play the Finale, the more hopelessly do 
I fall in love with it. * Wind and Strome^ Donner und 
Hagel raiischen ihren Weg'\ I hardly know anything 
else that tears along with such spirit. I always 
wonder how you felt when you tried to fetter the 
mental picture and shape it in artistic form. How 
glorious it must be to feel it has lost none of its 
original power in the process of development, from 
that first conception to its present elaborately worked- 
out form ! It has preserved all its natural flavour, 
and yet every little note plays its allotted part in 
building up a masterpiece. How often must even the 
greatest composer find the cherished vision he is 
striving to capture 'melt like a cloud of mist and 
vanish like a breath,' | or appear as a lifeless repro- 
duction ! But this is so warm with life, so full of fire 
and vigour, so direct and sincere in its appeal, that 
the consciousness of any intermediate stage is entirely 

Had I but the gift of eloquence to tell you really 
and truly all I feel, and how entirely this great, this 
beautiful work has won our hearts ! . . .§ 

* Op. io8, p. 27, bars 3 and 4. t Goethe, Das Gottliche. 

X Quotation from the song * Wie Melodien zieht es,' Op. 105, No. i. 

§ The letter is incomplete. 


238. Brahms to Elisabet voit Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna] November 10, 1888 * 

Dear Friend, — Quite as much depends on the way 
a letter is read as on the way it is written. 

In my reply to your letter there is not a word of 
untruth, nor did it ever occur to me to write one. 
I should be incapable, for very shame, of responding 
to you and your genuine, well-meant criticism other- 
wise than with the utmost sincerity and gratitude, 
even though I might consider I had the right to 
contradict you. 

It was not right of me to reply to your long and 
careful letter with that hasty, casual note, which was 
probably responsible for your misapprehension. It 
must have sounded confused to a degree, for I had all 
sorts of things in my head just then, and intended 
writing more fully another time. 

I have often told myself I should do better to 
give up corresponding with my friends altogether. I 
generally manage to go wrong somewhere, and if I 
don't, my correspondent infallibly does in reading it ! 

I hope you really sent off the sonata on the spot ? 
You know Frau Schumann is very touchy ! — Kindest 
regards to all three of you, 

J. Br. 

(Do you ever meet the great Nietzsche t on your 
marketing expeditions, and read him when you get 
home ?) 

* The date was noted by Frau von Herzogenberg, and marks the 
arrival of the letter. 

t Friedrich Nietzsche (1844- 1900), the philosopher, had spent the 
previous winter at Nice, but was then in Turin. 



239. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Nice, 'November 10, 1888.] 

Thank you, dear, dear Friend, for your good letter 
just received. Believe me, if I misread the other, it 
was not lack of modesty which influenced me, but a 
not unnatural diffidence. And how, pray, was I to 
take that remark about your being * more inclined to 
be suspicious' about my second letter than my first?* 

Only consider what a perfect right a man like you 
has, after all, to grow impatient with a woman like 
myself, and simply say, * Hold your tongue, goosey !' 
I had, after all, every reason to fear your wrath, in 
spite of your friendship and all the indulgence it brings, 
and your note the other day was so * enharmonically ' 
ambiguous that I really had some ground for bothering 
you again with my inquiries. 

Set your mind at rest ; the sonata went off yesterday 
by the first post. Frau Schumann has surely not had 
time to be angry yet ? In any case I am innocent ; 
yet the fact that she did not write to me for the sonata 
looks rather suspicious. She must be jealous of our 
having had the pleasure first, but poor Heinrich might 
really be allowed this special favour. When I think 
how rich all your lives are compared with ours, which 
is one struggle against overwhelming odds ! If we do 
contrive to be fairly happy sometimes, it is hard-earned 
happiness, and people who still show us a little extra 
kindness will find that it is not wasted. 

I have already abused Nietzsche with some vigour, 
and am always lamenting that such an intellect should 
have gone to the wrong man. For I do think him ex- 

* Cf. Letter 234. 


tremely clever despite all his vagaries, his paradoxes, 
and his boundless exaggerations. I have seldom been 
so fascinated by any book as by his Genealogie der 
Moral,* for instance, and I would rather disagree with 
one of his calibre than agree with many others, who 
are more orthodox but have less to say. And in his 
Der Fall Wagner\ his description of Wagner's style 
is excellent, better than anything else I have read — 
don't you agree ? But when he goes on to discredit the 
worth and the style of another composer,t so precious to 
us, dismissing the subject with careless levity, I simply 
ignore it as I do his flippant, short-sighted depreciation 
of Christianity and many other things. One has to sift 
the wheat from the chaff as one reads, and exercise 
much toleration; but the remainder is worth it, and 
there are certain things no one but this odd person is 
able to say, it seems to me. His remarks on music in 
Jenseits von Gut und Bdse§ are incredible and incom- 
prehensible in relation to the rest. The best, from 
a humorous standpoint, is his allusion in the latest 
pamphlet to the only man living who can write an 
overture — ie., Nietzsche,! * who has given to mankind 

* Appeared in 1887. 

+ Der Fall Wagner, Turiner Brief vom Mai, 1888. In this letter 
Nietzsche turns and rends his former idol. He concludes the letter 
with an attack on Brahms, culminating in the sentence (often mis- 
quoted) : ' His is the melancholy of impotence.' But Nietzsche's 
judgment was biassed by personal considerations in each case. 
Neither Wagner nor Brahms approved of his compositions. 

X Brahms. § PubUshed in 1886. 

II Nietzsche alludes to his friend Peter Gast (Heinrich Koselitz, 
b. 1854), composer of various operas, orchestral and chamber-music 
works. On June 28, 1888, Nietzsche expresses himself in a letter to 
the effect that Gast is the only man left whose music finds grace in his 
eyes, and that his opera {The Lion of Venice) is the first of modern 
operas — gay, emotional, and masterly in style, not amateurish like 

24 — 2 


the most profound books it possesses ' ! But Volkland 
knows a composition of his which is beneath criticism.* 
Really, this man's vanity will bring him to a lunatic 
asylum yet ! All the same, it would amuse me to meet 
him and have a tussle. Is he reall}^ here ? 

Heinz chmbed the Schlossberg with me this morning, 
a very creditable performance even for normal people. 
Wasn't it good ! By the way, please thank Billroth 
very much for his intended call. It was exceedingly 
kind of him to think of my Heinz. 

Farewell, and thank you once more for the good 
letter. My soul was indeed * cast down and disquieted 
within me 'I Let me see what dear Frau Schumann 
says to you about the sonata. I wish I could be there 
when she plays it with Joachim. Another thing I 
wanted to say — if doing up parcels is not too terrible 
a nuisance, I should welcome anything, arrangements, 
transpositions, etc. I know the original keys, and can 
adapt the transpositions accordingly. 

It will all come in useful for Liseley later on ! 

Remember me to Frau Franz ; she wrote such a kind 

letter. I shall be writing to the Fabers. — Your old 

friend and admirer, 

LiSL Herzogenberg. 

What is the name of Epstein's street again ? 

240. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, October 14, 1888.] 

Epstein's address is I. Rudolfsplatz 13. Nietzsche's 
was Hotel de Geneve a short time ago. He is said to 

* Hymnus an das Leben, for chorus and orchestra, which Nietzsche 
had sent to Brahms with a dedication. Brahms, however, decHned 
the honour, sending a polite message on his visiting card. 


be a fitting illustration of his Jejtseits von Gut unci Bose. 

His piece for chorus* has been printed by Fritzsch, and 

is much the same as any young student's effort. Don't 

waste the precious daylight too often by reading such 

things, and remember the saying: 'The reverse may 

be true.'t Labort gave an excellent rendering of 

Heinz's E flat sonata with a good violinist at the 

Tonkimstlerverein the other day. He has a splendid 

touch, fire, energy, and everything desirable. — Kindest 


J. Br. 

241. Elisabet vo7i Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Florence, May 14, 1889. 

Dear, dear Friend, — We were glad to have your 
message through Frau Schumann, and the good news 
that you would like to see us, and would even face 
a journey to that end. You offered so kindly to come 
to Graz in case we should pass through, and were 
equally willing to go to Berchtesgaden, which would 
not be far from your summer home this year. We 
shall hold you to it, and beg you to be sure and 

* C/. Letter 239. 

t * Perhaps the reverse may be true ' is a remark of Beethoven's 
at the age of twenty, recorded on a sketch page for the music to 
Holty's ^ Klage' (in possession of the Archiv der Gesellschaft dcr 
Musikfreunde, Vienna), as the result of a long debate on the relation 
between the method of notation and tempo. Brahms gleaned the 
phrase from a supplementary volume to the complete Beethoven 
edition, pubHshed in 1888, and was fond of using it to dispose of 
any sophistries and equivocations attributed to philosophers of the 
day. It is characteristic of his general attitude that he did not 
think it worth while to mention the incident between Nietzsche and 

J Josef Labor (b. 1842), Court organist, pianist, and composer, in 


act upon your charming resolve. We should have 
infinitely more of you at Liseley than at Graz, where 
we are only paying a short visit to our relatives, and 
shall hardly have a room to ourselves ; whereas at 
Liseley we can offer you a nice room and an excellent 
bed. It would be such a joy to welcome you there at 
last. We move in at the end of June or beginning of 
July, as our dear Dr. Schmid, the ruler of our destin}^, 
makes no objection. I shall write promptly, and hope 
to hear from you in the meantime. 

We have so enjoyed having Frau Schumann here 
and at Nice, although we wish she could enjoy all the 
beauties of the place more at the cost of less exer- 
tion. The dear thing has ten years too many on her 
shoulders, and has not the elasticity of temperament 
which one must possess if one would be perfectly 
happy among the Italians in spite of the dirt, fraud 
and general discomfort. Also one needs more leisure 
to absorb so many new impressions, striking as they 
may be, than her circular tour ticket — that ghastly 
invention ! — allowed her. Once or twice we found 
her miserably seated on her camp-stool before some 
Signorelli or Verocchio, rubbing her hands nervously 
and trying so hard to feel some enthusiasm. But 
nothing would come and carry her off her feet ; 
nothing awoke a response in her, receptive as she 
undoubtedly is. The truth is, one can only appreciate 
the best in art after a thorough apprenticeship; we 
have to serve our seven years for so many things in 
this world ! But when the glorious soul did take in 
anything quickly, her beautiful grey eyes, dim with 
emotion, would light up with youthful fire, as we all 
love to see them ; and how we rejoiced in these rare 
moments of happiness for her I She always enjoyed 


going to see our dear Hildebrand* at San Francesco, 
and seeing his fine new things. You must really meet 
him and get to know and admire his work. 

You can imagine how much we talked about your 
D minor, t each taking the words from the other's 
mouth. Frau Schumann played the precious thing 
with Amanda Rontgen, and was very pleased with 

They sang Heinrich's psalm t at Leipzig yesterday, 
dispensing with an orchestra, but putting all possible 
good-will into the performance ; and Heinrich — who 
is not spoilt — was much pleased by a telegram 
from the Bachverein a yard long. He has never 
heard a syllable from you on the subject, however, 
and that would please him far more. Rudorff's per- 
formance in March § was very good, they say. 

I must stop. I have very little time here. Kindest 

messages from Heinrich, who is wild with delight at 

the thought of having you at Liseley. Let us know 

when it would suit you best. It is too nice of you to 

come to our mountains again, and leave superior 

Switzerland to look after itself. || — Give a kind thought 

to your most devoted 

Via Ponta a E^a ^i^ 


* The sculptor, who had been living at Florence since 1874. 

t The third violin sonata. | Herzogenberg, Op. 60. 

§ At the Stern Gesangverein, Berlin. 

II Brahms's house at Thun had been spoilt for him by a newly 
laid-out promenade on the bank of the Aare, which ran immediately 
under his windows. Strangers, especially English tourists, insisted 
on stopping to listen when he was playing. 


242. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenherg, 

IscHL \May 23, 1889]. 

Dear Lady, — I do wish I could have the pleasure 
of seeing Frau Schumann enjoy Italy. 

But it is too late now, and your letter, in describing 
the pathetic side of it, proves that I was right not to 
attempt it. It could have been no satisfaction, since 
it fell so far short of what one hoped and desired 
for her. 

I don't understand your movements, given the 
supposition that good air is what Heinz needs. Both 
your present stay in Florence and the projected visit 
to Berchtesgaden are inexplicable. However, the 
prospect of our long-postponed meeting is clear to 
me, and makes me as happy as a king. 

I have still to thank you for certain dear old friends 
in their smart new Rieter dress.* No one could 
receive and examine your husband's things with 
greater eagerness and affection than I. Yet you 
must not expect any further comment, for I simply 
cannot see my way to it. For one thing, we have 
both much the same ambition in this case, so that 
I am led, involuntarily, to compare my own point of 
view. My only safe outlet would be a cheerful attack 
on the texts, which would bring me no honour and 
glory; for it only means that I am lazier than Heinrich, 
and wait until something turns up to attract me. The 
words of his psalm never would ! They remind me of 
a fanatical religious war, and that is no subject for 

■^ Herzogenberg's compositions — in particular Ps. xciv. 
•j" The psalm begins, 'O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth,' 
but closes with the words, 'Yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off.' 


Well, 1 wish you all things good and beautiful, with 
my visit to Berchtesgaden as an intermezzo ! 

I dare not ask to be supplied with news occasionally ; 
I am so far from deserving it. — With kindest regards, 

J. Br. 

243. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[IscHL, June 28, 1889.] 

This is just to say that I have made no plans, and 
shall look forward eagerly to your next letter. You 
know Ischl and the ' Post,'* or perhaps some of the 
other better-class inns ? It is foolish to venture an 
opinion without knowing the circumstances — but I am 
glad, all the same, that you are not going to Berchtes- 

Good-bye then, with best thanks for the delightful 
prospect this opens up. — Yours always sincerely, 

J. Br. 

244. Brahms to Heinrich von Herzogenberg. 

[Ischl, July 29, 1889.] 

Your parcel arrived with the post-card, though I 
only saw and read the latter afterwards. And what 
a disappointment! No piano concerto of yours for 
me, but what I take to be a violin concerto of your 
wife's for Joachimf — and not even permission to open 
the fat parcel ! Now, of course, I shall not be able 
to enclose anything for eight voices; J I confess it is 

* An inn at Ischl. 

t The music sent was probably Herzogenberg's Lcgenden for piano 
and viola, Op. 62, dedicated to ' his Friend, Josef Joachim.' 

I Three motets for four-part and eight-part chorus a capella, 
Op. no, which Brahms had shown them on their visit to Ischl. 


not copied out yet, and will come in nicely to send 
along with a letter of thanks for your most kind visit. 
You will enjoy sta3^ing there,"^ I feel sure, for it is a 
glorious spot. How you will revel in those woods I — 
Sincerely yours, j gj^ 

245. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, December 26, 1889. 

Dear, dear Friend, — It would be difficult to give 
you any idea of my pleasure in receiving your parcel 
— a precious gift in every respect. I am writing at 
once to ask you to set my mind at rest on two points. 
First, I usually look upon anything that arrives on 
Christmas Day as a present ; but may I really claim 
these polonaises, interlarded with such truffles,t as 
my own ? Can you really have intended anything 
so delightful ? Then — and this agitates me even more 
— the end of the piece is missing! It only goes to 
page — , so the rest must still be in your possession, and 
not, surely, by your own intention. You would never 
be so inhuman as to ' put asunder that which God hath 
joined' just for the sake of keeping another piece 
intact! I would rather resign mine in that case, if 
the other happier solution is impossible. 

In any case I want a line to reassure me, and if 
possible the missing pages. I leave you to imagine 
the bliss with which I sat down to the piano with 
the mildewed^ manuscript, the delight with which 

* At Baden-Baden. 

t The motets mentioned in Letter 244. Brahms had followed his 
usual method of wrapping the manuscript in old Viennese dance- 
music, probably the polonaises referred to. 

\ It is evident from this that Brahms had again indulged his 
passion for using old waste-paper. 


I hailed each fresh entry,* my absorption in the 
exquisite passing-notes, and my renewed wonder at 
the unfailing terseness and vigour, the delicious 
warmth of feeling in every bar — and finally my 
gratitude for being permitted to see and enjoy it. 

You have again made me exceedingly happy. 

More later on, when I am reassured as to those 
missing pages. — Your old friend, 

LiSL Herzogenberg. 

P.S. — I can't tell you the page, as you have only 
numbered the sheets. Those I have are ii, 12, and 13. 

246. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December 29, 1888.] 

Dearest Friend, — For to-day let me simply notify 

you that the last page contains nothing more valuable 

than a few closing bars. It was left behind from 

absent-mindedness, like the commonest umbrella. As 

soon as I can find a nice diagonal wrapperf I will put 

it in. — With kindest regards, yours, 


247. Elisabet von Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Berlin] Burggrafenstrasse 4, 
March 17, 1890. 

Dearest Friend, — I hope you are not angry at 
receiving no acknowledgment of the patriotic Gedenk- 
spruche and motets \\ but we received them a fortnight 
late, as we now see from the enclosed bills of consign- 

♦ Of the different voices in the choruses, 
t Meaning another page of old dance music. 

\ Fesi- und Gedenkspruche, Op. 109, and Drei Moteiten, Op. no, 
pubUshed by Simrock early in 1890. 


ment, dated February 21 and March 10, owing to some 
oversight at Simrock's. Since then Heinrich has been 
hoping from day to day to write to you himself — an 
intention of long standing — and thank you properly 
for this delightful present. Instead, he is condemned 
to sit idle, with the further complication of a painful 
and troublesome inflammation of the eyes — so his 
wife must again be the speaker. 

We take the deepest pleasure in these choruses. 
Your choice of the glorious, strengthening words, 
designed to enhance the splendour of these solemn 
festivals, is not happier than the note you have chosen 
for their musical setting. It is so precisely right — 
edifying, simple, pithy, unsentimental, and yet glowing 
with inward fervour. I wish I could hear them 
soon, rendered in the spirit in which they were con- 
ceived. A composition written in a serious mood 
should be performed with equal seriousness, not 
thrust upon concert-goers whether the rest of the 
programme is suitable or not. Although I now have 
my motets* in print, with the addition of a most 
insulting piano arrangement (a severe reflection on 
present-day choir-masters, by the way !),t I want that 
last page of mine more than ever. You really must 
not keep it back any longer. Please smuggle it neatly 
in with some delightful thing or other, and send it me 
very soon.| 

* ' Wenn wir in hochsten Noten seien,' and Op. no, No. 2, ' Ach 
arme Welt, dii trUgest mich,' which Frau von Herzogenberg had 
appropriated as a Christmas present to herself. 

t The piano arrangement is duly explained in the score as a 
' possible help in rehearsing.' 

I Brahms could not be induced to give up the missing page. 
Frau von Herzogenberg's manuscript was found incomplete after 
her death. 


Don't be so sparing with the use of your pen ! It 
used to be much more diligent on my behalf. In 
sorting out my letters, I was touched to find I had 
quite a respectable fat bundle in your handwriting to 
tie up and pat, and the thought would come, Why 
does he grow more monosyllabic ? why does he only 
send post-cards when he writes at all — these lamentable 
substitutes for closed and therefore precious letters? 
That you can write charmingly I realized again with 
joy on perusing these letters — of, alas ! such ancient 

You used to demand an epistle from me now and 
again, too; but one drops into silence after a time 
when no sound penetrates the dear, beautiful forest 
in which one wanders. It is a pity. Our pleasures 
are not so numerous that we can afford to be wasteful, 
and even you cannot have many such devoted friends 
as ourselves, in spite of the new communities which 
are springing up all around you. 

We often long for the B major trio,* and the press 
notice you were so kind as to send increased our 
curiosity.t Don't keep us waiting too long. 

Good-bye for to-day. I should like to write a good 
deal more, but don't know whether you would care 
for it. 

* Brahms had thoroughly overhauled an early work (Trio in B, 
Op. 8), and brought it out in its improved form as a 'new edition' 
(see Kalbeck, Brahms, i. 156-163). He played it on February 22, 
1890, in Vienna with Rose and Hummer, and before that in Buda- 
Pesth with Hubay and Popper. 

t Probably an anonymous discussion which appeared in the 
Deutsche Kunst- unci Musik-Zcihmg, a very inferior paper. The 
article, which was remarkable for its intelligence, took Brahms by 
surprise, and he praised it to a few of his friends. Among these was 
Mandyczewski, the writer of it ; he kept his secret, however, so as 
not to spoil Brahms's pleasure. 


Let us hear from you soon. We are not always 

bright and cheerful, and can do with a little friendly 

encouragement. — Yours ever, 

LiSL Herzogenberg. 

Please remember me to Frau Franz and the Fabers 
— who have had trouble again I 

248. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[IscHL, May 23, 1890.] 

Dear Friend, — I wished, even before leaving Vienna, 
I could borrow your wife's graceful pen to fill this 
envelope. I wanted to thank you for your last bulky 
parcel, and express my pleasure and thanks at my 

But I never could manage it. One thing in particular 
restrained me : I have been more than usually impressed 
this time with the great similarity of our work ! In 
looking over the chorales^ the quartets, and the songs, 
I was quite agitated to find how vividly they recalled 
all sorts of efforts of my own. May your own agita- 
tion, when you have occasion to indulge in a similar 
retrospect, be of a more pleasing order than mine ! 

But I am not going into the question of our music 
to-day and in these surroundings. I am merely curious 
about something. 

1 read a notice just now to the effect that you were 
to be at Hamburg to-day.'^ That is a pleasanter sort 

* Several of Herzogenberg's compositions were performed on 
May 23 at the Hamburg TonkunsUerverein, among them a string 
quartet (Op. 42, No. 3), the waltzes for pianoforte duet (Op. 53), and 
choruses for female voices from Op. 26 (performed by the Sing- 
akademie choir under Schwencke). The Herzogenbergs had gone 
over specially for this concert. 


of agitation, and I am particularly anxious to hear 
more about it — a full account. The town may have 
pleased you, if it happens to have exerted itself for 
once to secure a fine day. Our worthy colleagues 
have as usual exerted themselves to no effect, I imagine ? 
Mediocre as ever ? I miss Spengel's name among the 
parties concerned, yet he is the leading spirit where 
you and your music are in question ! 

I hope you will be inclined for a little chat. I need 
not say how specially interested I am. And what are 
your summer plans ? Send me a few lines to Ischl. 
— With kindest regards to you both, yours, 


249. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

•Berlin, ywne 8, 1890. 

Dearest Friend, — I might find your * agitation' (that 
for which my last parcel of music was responsible) 
infectious, could I but make sure what you mean by 
it. I could read every meaning into your mysterious 
words — pleasing or painful according to the way I turn 
them about. The process of my development reminds 
you here and there of your own. Is it the chaff or the 
wheat that gives the resemblance ? Or merely the 
restlessness of my millstones? You know that every 
least sign from you has been of value to me, not merely 
because I was able to grasp it instantly, but because 
I always tried to turn it to practical use ; and you 
must not withdraw your help now, whether you think 
me fully fledged or a hopeless case. I do not consider 
myself 'finished ' in either sense. 

We spent some pleasant, invigorating days at Ham- 
burg. We were quite unprepared for the imposing and 


stirring aspect of your native town. It makes Berlin 
seem like a haphazard conglomeration of material, 
which might any day be taken to pieces again. How 
fascinating it is to stroll down to the picturesque 
harbour in the morning, prowl about the quaint, 
serious old streets, and float peacefully down the 
Alster past all those serene old houses which have 
such a proprietary air ! 

The only dissonant note (badly prepared and impos- 
sible to resolve !) was X.'s terribly flowery speech. 
The rest of the evening passed off agreeably. The 
performance was excellent, and the audience patient 
and well-disposed. We made some charming excur- 
sions through the beech-woods at Reinbeck to the 
Spengels (what a delightful woman she is !), and to 
Chrysander, whose alertness we found most refresh- 
ing. The double life he leads struck us as so well 
ordered, so natural. From the greenhouse we passed 
into his music-printing room ; from the cowhouse into 
the library — and what a library ! We gleaned the 
latest authentic news of his great neighbour,* of 
course, and were more than ever nonplussed by the 
recent turn of events and the attitude of the Almighty 
in countenancing them. 

Before this we had to superintend the sale of 
house and furniture at Berchtesgaden, taking our 
last farewell with heavy hearts though not heavy 
purses ! 

We shall spend July at Wildbad, part of August at 
Sylt ; so you see we mean to do our best — 

Also for the coming generation of composers, but I 
am still on the lookout for a pupil possessed of talent 
at least ! Has no one come your way whom you could 
* Bismarck, who was then living in retirement at Friedrichsruh. 


pass on to me ? Kahn* is a real joy to us. He seems 
to improve as if by instinct, and I have no fear that 
any seed of his ability will run to waste. That is 
the right sort ! Like stags, they select the food 
that suits them, and don't wait to have it thrown to 
them in their stalls like cows. But could you not 
scatter a grain of manna in my path again occasion- 
ally, as before ? I should not be stingy and store 
it in sacks like the Jews, but use it to feed my own 
soul— With kindest regards from my wife and myself, 



250. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[IscHL, June 14, 1890.] 

My very dear Friend, — I must just thank you 
for your very kind and charming letter, though I 
will not attempt to answer it, being even worse 
at writing words than music — for at least I don't 
begin to dislike the latter until the day after it is 
written ! 

I am glad my last letter shone in two colours— grey 
for me, sky blue for you ! 

Liseley stood for a sentimental chapter in your 
family, and it is grievous to hear that it has come 
to an end. 

May the summer bring you good luck in other 
respects, and the winter good pupils. I should be 

* Robert Kahn (b. 1865), composer and conductor, pupil of Vincenz 
Lachner, Kiel, Rheinberger, and Herzogenberg, at present Professor 
of Theory of Music at the Hochschide, Berlin. In the 'eighties he 
had the benefit of some lessons from Brahms. 



inclined to envy you if I came across any such. Be 
glad you have one at all ! 

I had no idea it was your first visit to Hamburg and 
to Chrysander, and was the more pleased to have your 
cheerful account. 

But no more to-day except renewed thanks and 

kindest regards to you both. — Yours, 


251. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Berlin, October 9, 1890. 

Dear Friend, — I have so often had the pleasure of 
showing you what an event a new piece is to me that 
I need not fear you will misunderstand my silent 
reception of your two children this time. Heinrich 
wrote to you recently that I had not been well. I 
have had great difficulty in breathing all this time, 
and felt almost paralyzed — not only in my physical 
movements, but mentally. This kind of oppression 
affects the Psyche within one, and her wings soon 
droop. If anything helped to pull me together, it 
was a glance into your scores, a walk through the 
sunny landscape of the new quintet,* which overflows 
with melodiousness, gentle loveliness, and heavenly 
peace. The * old ' quintet, the F major, affected me 
so powerfully again recently that the new one only 
found a footing with difficulty (old friends are 
fondest !) ; but my heart soon surrendered to the 
new-comer, and is prepared to admit its possibly 
greater beauty and benignity, its riper, sweeter 
vintage. Yet why compare them, when they are so 
eminently worthy to stand side by side ! 

* Quintet in G, Op. iii. 


The very opening charmed me. I felt myself almost 
transported into the atmosphere of the G major sextet, 
and the acquaintance begun under such favourable 
auspices has at no point caused me any disillusion. 
How it meets one's comprehension halfway by its 
exquisite proportions, its compactness! How clear 
is the framework, thanks to the absence of everything 
superfluous, and how perfectly each part fulfils its 
allotted function ! How much everyone might learn 
from it — everyone, that is, who does not choose 
simply to enjoy it ; and how I wish I could hear it 
soon ! It must sound so lighthearted, different again 
from the F major, which gives even our splendid 
players here all they can do to bring out its full 
brilliance. How charming the first motion is, and 
the melody for the 'cello ! How insinuating the 
second subject, with its deft introduction !* Only the 
opening bars of the coda (H)t struck me as somewhat 
harsh; the imitation between fiddle and viola is hardly 
as insinuating in character as is obviously intended. 
But I will not weary you by telling you things you 
know so much better, and naming every bar that 
charmed me. I may just say how glorious I think 
the Adagio, however. The C sharp minor piece in 
the first quintet! is magnificent, but I rate this far 
higher, on account of its uniform character and con- 
tinuity. Middle parts which are designed for contrast 
always hurt me a little, but here the colours are so 
blended as to enhance each other's brilliance, while 
the same even temper prevails throughout. A 
delicious movement ! One is glad of the Allegretto, 
though, after so much solemnity. It relieves the 

* P. 5, bar 7. t Letter H in the score. 

% The second movement (Grave ed appassionato), Op. 88. — Tr. 



strain without displaying — as do so many Allegrettos 
— more sprightliness than is musically justifiable. 
Laughter of that refined and witty order is becoming 
enough. And the coda in the Trio, with that adorable 
crescendo before the da capo on the sustained D — you 
knew well that your friends would exchange approving 
nods at that point ! I cannot appreciate the Finale 
thoroughly until I hear it, for it is not eye-music, 
but rich, sonorous ear-music, too rich for my imagina- 
tion to grasp entirely. The rhythm and the line of the 
melody remind me of the Scherzo in the B flat major 
concerto : 




It is even, perhaps, rather too striking a reminiscence 
for anyone with such a store as yours to draw upon ; 
yet children of the same parents do undoubtedly 
resemble one another, and Nature's store is the most 
inexhaustible ! So one concludes it had to be, and 
that particular motif is only one of the many that 
frolic together in this movement. I could kiss the 
second subject,! and all the sweet tangle after it. 
It is so pretty the first time it comes, clever the 
second, and irresistible after the development (which 
one wishes had been longer), where it comes twisting 
in again upon D.t What movement and swing there 
is in it all; what a tempo in the development; and 
how youthful and charming every detail ! The person 
who invented it all must have felt very light-hearted. 

■^ Op. Ill, p. 48, bar 9. + p. 40, bar 15. 

X Op. Ill, p. 48, bar 9. 


One feels you must have been celebrating — say, your 
thirtieth birthday! 

We get pleasure out of it anyway, when you give 
us anything so charming, and rejoice that we have 
youthful hearts to enjoy what your youthful heart 

I was strangely affected by the old-new trio.* 
Something within me protested against the remodel- 
ling. I felt you had no right to intrude your master- 
touch on this lovable, if sometimes vague, production 
of your youth. I decided it could not possibly be a 
success, because no one is the same after all that time, 
and I might have to sing a lament : * Es war ein Duft, 
es war ein Glanz!\ 

I therefore made a point of not looking at the * old ' 
trio beforehand. I had forgotten many parts of it, 
and did not know where the new Brahms joined on, 
as I never notice what the papers say. However, I 
recognized your inset in the first movement instantly X 
was completely disarmed, and played on in a transport 
of delight. It is beautiful in its present form, and I 
gladly leave it to the musical philologues to remon- 
strate with you. They are more concerned with the 
date of a thing than the thing itself — by which I mean 
no allusion to our quite unpetrified Spitta ! The 
Adagio has gained wonderfully in smoothness by the 
contraction, and the glorious, stately stride of the 
principal subject has lost nothing of its fascination. 
In the Scherzo, where probably the least alteration 
has been made, we admire the amazingly clear accen- 

* Op. 8 (c/. Letter 247, note). 

t Quotation from the song Heimwch (Brahms, Op. 63, No. 9). 
\ P. 4, bar 8 of original edition. The principal alterations were 
made in the development section. 


tuation of the original intention. In short, who would 
not welcome this piece, with its wise face and its 
youthful complexion ? 

* Nun kann man's zweimal lesen, 
Wie gut ist das gewesen !' 

Farewell for to-day, dear, dear Friend, and let us 
thank you sincerely for letting us see your glorious 
things. Do send them again soon — above all the 
quintet, with the parts — to Joachim as soon as pos- 

Hermine Spies is said to have sung particularly 
well yesterday. I see and hear nothing, but stay 
inside my shell, and do not grieve overmuch. I find 
the most entertainment at home, after all. — Your old 
friend and admirer, 

Elisabet Herzogenberg. 

252. Brahms to Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, October 27, 1890.] 

As I am sending off a rather audaciously bulky 
letter, I will anticipate or follow it up by a few words 
to introduce young Prohaska to you. I can recom- 
mend him warmly, although my own acquaintance 
with him is, unfortunately, very slight. 

But you will soon see for yourself I hope he will 
prove a pupil after your own heart. 

Please see in both pupil and parcel expression of 
my good-will. — With kindest regards, 

J. Br. 



and — I von- 

Received herewith 

Ac per bill 
Express order... 
Oil approval 
Further orders ? 
Cop3^ for review ! ? 

I Triolettchen 
I Quinkelei^ 

^ Parts not available. 

253. Herzogen berg to Br ah ms. 

Berlin, Odober 31, 1890. 

Dearest Friend, — Our delight at receiving such a 
glorious sign of life from you was indeed great, and 
would have been greater had we at least some hope 
and prospect of seeing the parts of the exquisite 
quintet. J As it is, we have to keep it to ourselves, 
and absorb it greedily a deux. You don't know what 
a pleasure it would have been to take it to Joachim 
at once. But, really, may he not have it for the 
Kammermusik ? Won't you lend your sanction ? — 
for our sakes and for his ! His enthusiasm for your 
music is so young and vigorous. Only two days ago 
he gave his fine audience a perfect performance of 

* The appended invoice was enclosed in a parcel of music con- 
taining the B major trio {Triolettchen) and the G major quintet 
{Qiiinkclei). The words crossed out in the left-hand column were 
scored through with blue pencil. 

t 'To H. [German name for B natural] and E. von H.' — Tr. 

X Op. III. 


the F major quintet, displaying all its beauties more 
convincingly than ever. 

This most affecting mark of your favour makes us 
uncomfortable in relation to him. Can nothing be 

My wife intended playing the trio* yesterday, but 
the old breathing difficulty prevented her. We under- 
stand the scheme of the alterations now, though we 
silently mourn one or two lost favourites — the second 
subject in the first movement, for instance. 

To-morrow I go to Leipzig to help to bury that 
dear little old lady, Frau Hauptmann.t 

I have various things to do before then, and must 
leave my wife to finish. She will be eloquent in 
thanking you for the great pleasure you have given us. 

I am most eager to see the new pupil. It so happens 
that I have just an hour free for him. Our natives 
are not good for much, so I welcome every foreigner. — 
Most sincerely yours, Herzogenberg. 

254. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, December, 1890.] 

Just the hastiest line for to-day ! I may assume that 
you will be there when they try the quintet ? 

I want you to ask Joachim for my last letter to him, 
as my remarks and queries with reference to the 
beginning of the piece are addressed as much to you 
as to him. I should be very glad if you would listen 
critically, and write me frankly what you think.f 

* The revised trio in B, Op. 8. 
•j- Widow of Moritz Hauptmann. 

% It was a question of whether the 'cello, which has the principal 
subject in the first movement, would be heard clearly through the 


And now a second hasty line to thank you for your 
too kind letter, and the printed matter accompanying 
it, which I have not yet read.* 

I wish I could express my thanks by showing you 
my treasures from the Keller literary remains.t 

I will enclose one small sample, which you can send 

back after the rehearsals of the quintet. — Yours very 


J. Br. 

255. Elisabet von Herzogenherg to Brahms, 

[Berlin] December 16, 1890. 

Dearest Friend, — After the Kammermusik the other 
day, where we heard your quintet, I begged Joachim for 
another look at the score. It only came in the evening, 
however, and I had to despatch it by the last post, so 

semiquaver accompaniment {forte) of the other instruments, especially 
as a counter-melody of some importance begins in the third bar. 
The first performance of the piece was on November ii in Vienna, 
at one of Arnold Rose's chamber-music evenings. Hummer, the 
'celhst, despaired of making himself heard, in spite of the broad, 
vigorous tone for which he was famous, and Sigmund Bachrich, the 
first viola player, had the courage to point out to Brahms the necessity 
for some modification in the tone of the others. After playing the 
quintet in Berlin on December ii, Joachim wrote to Brahms: 'And 
now the desired report as to the opening passage. After trying it in 
various ways, we came back to your original version, except for a 
slight modification of the forte from the end of the second bar, 
increasing the tone again later.' 

* New compositions of Herzogenberg's. 

t Professor Adolf Exner, successor to Jhering at Vienna University, 
had handed over to Brahms the delightful correspondence between 
Jhering, his sister Marie Frisch, and Gottfried Keller, to look through 
before it was incorporated in Jakob Baechthold's Life of Keller 
(vol. iii.). Brahms was so delighted with Keller's lively wit that he 
would spend whole afternoons reading out extracts to his friends in 
Vienna, and even copied out some for his own use. 


could not, as I intended, write to you about it at once. 
Instead of looking thoroughly into every detail that 
had impressed me on hearing it, I employed the short 
time I had in strumming bits of the glorious piece 
and impressing the Adagio on my memory. How 
beautiful, how impressive it is, how entirely satisfying 
in sound^ how luminously clear by virtue of its neat 
proportions ! It must take possession of all who have 
ears to hear and hearts to feel. You know already 
how we delight in the whole work, but you will not 
be angry if I favour the two middle movements, 
because I recognise in them such perfect unity of 
emotion, vigour, and effect. I find it hard to accustom 
myself to the sound of certain parts of the first move- 
ment, and had conceived of it as sunnier from reading 
the score. The character of the principal theme hardly 
seems to me to demand the tranquil treatment you 
give it. A broken chord of the six-four is, after all, 
nothing wildly uncivilized, and you make it so hard 
for the poor 'cello to penetrate. Either the four others 
make spasmodic efforts to restrain themselves for fear 
of drowning the 'cello in his role as leader, or he must 
scrape mercilessly to make himself heard, and the 
effect is worse than ever. The original version is 
undoubtedly the best, but the accompanying instru- 
ments must on no consideration exceed a mezzo-forte. 
But could you not, dear master, make this passage 
more beautiful ? The continuation is so very beautiful. 
Must we be tested a little before you dazzle us w^ith 
the second subject and its glorious introductory bars?* 
The opening of the development is indescribably fine, 
with its powerful Bach-like progressions : F, E|?, D(?, 
C, and G, F, E|^, D. How Joachim and Hausmann 

* Op. Ill, p. 5, bars. 


looked at each other there, and what a blissful moment 
it was for us all ! Later, at the close of the develop- 
ment,* the 'cello groans again — that is, Hausmann 7tever 
does (even though one hears all wood and no strings 
after a time, which he is too hotly engaged to notice) ; 
but the instrument itself gives signs of protest against 
the exorbitant demands made on it. I venture to think, 
in all humility, that a person like you ought to write 
nothing which is not absolutely pleasing — not only to 
the mind, but to the ear. 

Please do not scold this saucy person ! You did 
send us a 'copy for review,' you know.f My gratitude 
and my immense delight in this glorious new work 
were marred at times by a certain disappointment in 
the actual sound, not, of course, in the middle move- 
ments, which are moulded entirely out of silver and 
gold ; and as to the last — well, you zvanted to be harsh, 
witty, clever, and a trifle riotous there, and so the 
occasional harshness in the sound is justifiable. But 
the first movement I Reading it was like feeling 
spring breezes ; hearing it, they became equinoctial 
gales, which you do get in March, it is true — but then 
March is not spring! J 

Dear Barometer-Man on your Magic Island, § do 
show a little more clemency. Go over those few 
places again with a soft stump, as if it were a charcoal 
drawing, and smear it over, tone it down a little ! 

* P. 14, bar 3. 

t Cf. Letter 252, ' invoice.' 

X ' Brahms on the Prater ' would be an ideal inscription for this 
quintet, which smacks both of Vienna and the North. A friend 
suggested it to Brahms after a rehearsal, and Brahms promptly 
replied, ' You've hit it !' adding, with a sly smile, ' And all the pretty 
girls there, eh ?' 

§ Title of a play by Ferdinand Raimund. 


That high, scratchy part in F minor (I think), near 
the end of the development,* really sounds anything 
but beautiful. It is so laboured, whereas everything in 
this movement ought to sound beautiful. 

Thank you for sending the enclosed poem, which 
is very affecting.f By way of thanks, I should like 
to send Heinrich's latest piece, which seems to me 
particularly good. It is a Latin Requiem for chorus 
and orchestra^ — without solos, thank Heaven! But 
there is none of it here, as he is doing it in a concert 
at Leipzig in March. I flatter myself you would like 
it, and am most anxious to hear your opinion. Heinrich 
wrote it this winter, in an incredibly short time, and 
that is perhaps why it seems like the result of one 
inspiration — flowing, melodious, and well written for 
chorus singing, or so we hope ! 

Farewell for to-day, and thank you once more for 
the strengthening, precious gift of the quintet. I wish 
I could close as effectively as you when you sing — 


That F, coming in previously there, is too beautiful ! 

And so on ! — Your admiring 

E. H. 

* Op. Ill, p. 12, bar 9 (?). 

t A poem by , which had been placed between the leaves of 

the Adagio by the author, to whom Brahms had lent the score. It 
went to Berlin, and was returned in due course, Brahms's attention 
being at last drawn to it by Frau von Herzogenberg. 

\ Herzogenberg's Requiem for four-part chorus and orchestra, 
Op. 72. 

§ Op. Ill, Adagio, p. 27, bar 8. 


256. Brahms to Herzogenberg, 

[Vienna, January lo, 1891.] 

Forgive me if I only send this brief acknowledgment 

of your parcel to-day. I have long wanted to ask 

you to send me these tokens of your industry more 

frequently. I could really envy you your industrious- 

ness, your youth, your joy in life and in work ! I 

hope you will thoroughly enjoy the Leipzig concert.* — 

Sincerely yours, 


257. Brahms to Elisabet von Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, February, 1891.] 

Dearest Lady, — I have not deserved a letter, and 
am not setting out to deserve one to-day, but you 
might have sent me a paper or a programme from 
which I could glean what manner of thing the Konigs- 
psalm,\ is! Also I should have been glad of a line to 
say whether you enjoyed Leipzig and the Leipzigers. 
I would dispense with other charming details, such as 
how many sandwiches were consumed during the 
rehearsal, how many stockings knitted (as under 
RiedelJ of blessed memory I), what words of wisdom 
— let fall, etc. 

What I really must know is whether Herr Astor is 
bestirring himself !§ 

* Herzogenber^'s Requiem was performed at the Thomaskirche, 
Leipzig, on February 22, with great success. 

t Herzogenberg's psalm. Op. 71, for chorus and orchestra, written 
in honour of the Kaiser's birthday, was performed on the same 
evening as the Requiem. 

X Karl Riedel (1827-1888). Cf. Letter 121. 

§ In bringing out Herzogenberg's compositions. 


I look on at your wonderful energy and your pleasant 
circle of serious-minded, seriously-interested people 
with envious approval. Unfortunately, one or other 
of you is always having to lie up ! 

We do not follow your example in either respect 
here, but read and trifle away our spare time — witness 
the enclosed !* 

But do let me hear something by one means or 
another. — With kindest regards, yours sincerely, 


258. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Berlin, February 28, 1891.] 

Dearest Friend, — I was on the point of dipping 
my pen to thank you for the trio and quintet t w^hen 
your letter arrived with all the questions and the gay 

My wife's recovery is slower this time than ever 
before. She has been in bed six weeks, and the doctor 
cannot convince himself whether this inertia is a good 
or a bad sign. I will spare such a brilliantly healthy 
specimen as yourself a description of her symptoms, 
and will only say that they are of a serious, if not 
precisely dangerous, order. She sends kindest mes- 
sages and many flattering remarks about my Requiem ; 
the latter I am suppressing, as she is, for the first time 
in twenty-two years, inclined to depart from her usual 
impersonal standpoint. Those were delightful days 
at Leipzig, in spite of the melancholy nature of the 
piece and the anxiety I felt about my wife. You will 

* The manuscript of Thirteen Canons for Women's Voices, published 
by Peters in 1891. 

t The trio (B major) and quintet (G major) had been published in 
between by Simrock. 


be most interested to hear that my perspiring efforts 
at all the rehearsals and performances were, to the 
surprise of my friends, as vigorous as could be desired, 
and were carried out with the endurance and ease of 
an acrobat. The performance was excellent. They 
say the acoustic properties of the new Thomaskirche* 
are splendid ; indeed, Spitta and Hausmann are quite 
envious. The piece is too good to have good notices, 
but I would gladly send it you in one form or the other 
if by so doing I can squeeze from you another of those 
rare, precious, attar-of-roses drops with which I have 
periodically reprieved my artistic career. Konigs- 
psalm is the title of a composition written for the 
Kaiser's birthday, such as every * academic 'f has to 
produce in his turn. I will not deny that I found a 
strong incentive in being commissioned to do something 
within a given time for once. It is a good index to 
the general level of one's productive powers. If it 
turns out passably well, one knows how one stands 
as regards technique. 

That you should spot my furtive literary efforts f 
only proves the incredible range of your reading. 
You of course, like all musicians, will think me too 
learned, while learned people do me the greater com- 
pliment of thinking me too musical. So there I am, 
between two stools, a position I do not propose to 
maintain any longer than I am compelled. 

The adaptability of the older to the younger Brahms 
in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th movements of the trio is 
simply amazing. In the ist I cannot get rid of the 

* The old Thomaskirche had just been thoroughly renovated. 

t An allusion to his election to membership of the Royal Academy 
of Arts. 

X Herzogenberg had published an essay on Bischoff's Harmonic- 
lehre in the Vierieljahrsschrift fur Musikwissenschaft (1891, p. 267). 


impression of its being a collaboration between two 
masters who are no longer quite on a level. It is 
probably my own fault, for I still shed a tear each 
time for the dear departed E major subject.* 

I wonder what you are meditating next. Can it be 

an opera, after all ? I must really ask .f — Kindest 

regards from us both. Your sincerest admirer, 


259. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 29, 1891.] 

... If I had not abjured letter-writing long ago, 
I would fire off a long epistle to Spitta, thanking him 
for his fine essay on the Requiem J and his last volume 
of Schutz, in which I am revelling. Do at least tell 
him that no one is more sincerely and gratefully 
appreciative of the fruits of his industry and learning 
than I. 

My customary little grievance as to those confounded 

clefs IMI - and O: ^ is mitigated this time 



* Omitted by Brahms in the new edition. 

t Some busybody, who professed to know all about Brahms and 
his plans. 

% Spitta took Herzogenberg's Requiem as a basis for a historical 
critical essay on Musikalische Seeletimessen, afterwards incorporated 
in his book Zur Musik (Paetel, 1892). 

§ Spitta, in his edition of the works of Heinrich Schiitz (1585-1672), 
had retained the original clefs, thereby rendering the score more 
difficult to read. Brahms always advocated the use of the soprano, 
alto, and tenor clefs, and used them in his own vocal scores ; but the 
mezzo-soprano and baritone clefs (as above) he considered obsolete, 
detesting them accordingly. He drew a sharp distinction between 
what he called ' antiquarian fads ' and ' musical necessity.' A vocal 
score written in four clefs gave him a much clearer idea than the 


by the possibility of transposing some of the numbers 
into readable positions, No. 7 into three sharps, and 
so on. 

If you send a word in reply to this, add a good 
many on the subject of your dear wife's health. It 
is no good asking her. — With kindest regards to you 
both, yours, 

J. Br. 

260. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, April 30, 1891. 

. . . The Leipzig Bachverein is doing my Requiem 
for the second time on May 1 1^\ What a pity it cannot 
be transferred to Brunn — when I should like someone 
I know to be present ! Unfortunately, we cannot yet 
count on my wife's being able to go. Although she is 
much better on the whole, her condition is so uncertain 
that we cannot make any plans, and least of all run 
the risk of exposing her to the boisterous welcome 
of our Leipzig friends. 

I shall pass on your kind and encouraging messages 
to Spitta at once. He can do with that sort of thing 
now and again. To me, too, this book of madrigals* 
seems much more accessible and interesting than 
many of the earlier ones. The things sound really 
exquisite ; Adolf Schulzef is rehearsing them with 
the greatest care. You really learn to respect the 

modern contraction of two (treble and bass), and he defended his 
preference even against his pubhshers, who would have preferred to 
meet the public convenience in the matter. 

* II primo libro dei Madrigali (1611), by Heinrich Schiitz. 

t Adolf Schulze (b. 1835), singer, professor of singing at the 
Hochschule, Berlin. 



man when you see him in his element conducting 
a capella choruses. 

I don't know yet what we shall attempt this summer. 
I shall probably go — alone this time — to Sylt again 
for part of August. It has such a wonderfully 
strengthening and lasting effect on me. It would 
be charming if you could come. A silent ramble on 
the bare heath is so glorious. 

My wife sends kindest messages. — Yours, 


261. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, May 2, 1891.] 

Mandyczewski* will be calling on you one day soon. 

I need not commend him to your kindness. I should 

be particularly glad if he could attend Schulze's choral 

class. They have no idea of that sort of thoroughness 

here, and Mandyczewski would be the man to turn 

it to profit for our school later, perhaps. — With kindest 

regards, yours, 


262. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, May 10, 1891.] 

Many thanks for the parcel, which could not have 
arrived more opportunely. Wait a minute, though, 
that sounds as if I were ready for a Requiem myself! 
No, indeed, but my boxes are already packed for Ischl, 
and I can just lay it nicely on the top. Once there 
I shall be able to enjoy the fruits of your toil, while I 
remain blissfully idle myself I hear your wife went 

* Cf. Letter 150. 


to Leipzig with you. In that case she must be better, 

and you will have a delicious time together. I should 

like to go to the North Sea with you, but my laziness 

will probably keep me at Ischl. 

Kindest regards and best wishes for the summer 

from yours, 

J. Br. 

263. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, January, 1892.] 

My very dear Friend, — I am too much with 3^ou in 
thought to be able to write.* It is vain to attempt 
any expression of the feelings that absorb me so 
completely. And you will be sitting alone in your 
dumb misery, speechless yourself and not desirous 
of speech from others. 

Be assured I am full of sorrow and profoundest 
sympathy as I think of you. I could ask questions 
without end. 

You know how unutterably I myself suffer by the 
loss of your beloved wife, and can gauge accordingly 
my emotions in thinking of you, who were associated 
with her by the closest possible human ties. 

As soon as you feel at all inchned to think of your- 
self and others, let me know how you are, and how 
and where you intend to carry on your own life. 

It would do me so much good just to sit beside you 
quietly, press your hand, and share your thoughts 
of the dear marvellous woman. — Your friend, 

J. Brahms. 

* Brahms had received the news of Frau von Herzogenberg's 
death (on January 7, 1892) by telegram. No letters are in existence 
between May 10 and the present one. 

26 — 2 


264. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

[Florence, February 2, 1892.] 

My very dear Friend, — It would indeed do me 
good to have you sitting beside me. We have in 
common so many memories of my precious wife. 
Did we not always count the times when we were 
all together our best ? Leipzig, Carinthia, Salzburg, 



and the happy Christmas days you spent with us 
at Zeitzerstrasse — wherever my thoughts wander, you 
are woven into our lives at any point worth remember- 
ing. And how we lived on the memory of those 
occasions ! You took up so much more space in our 
thoughts than in actual life. 

All that we could talk over by the hour — but you 
must spare me any account of those cruel last weeks. 
Her sufferings hurt me even more now that I have 
no hope to keep me up and deceive me. My suffering 
has given me no time to realize my own position, and, 
indeed, I have buried myself in work, hoping not to be 
aroused from it again. 

I shall stay on here into May, as this real hermit's 
life suits me. I see Hildebrand now and then. He 
was like a brother to me in those dark days. Did you 
hear of my mother-in-law's death here a week before 
my wife's ? Neither knew of the other's condition. I 

* Subject of the violin sonata, Op. 78, which Brahms brought with 
him in manuscript to Salzburg in August, 1878 {cf. Letters 62 
and 63). 


kept it a secret from Lisl. It was horrible, enough to 
drive one mad ! 

If you see Epstein, please tell him this, and remember 
me kindly to him. I shall not feel like writing at 

Are you not coming to Italy this spring ? I should 
be so glad to join you. — Keep a little friendship for 
yours ever, Herzogenberg. 

Via DEI Bardi 22. 

265. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, March 6, 1892.] 
In great haste — are you still at the same address ? 
I may send you two small scores?* Peters sent them 
long ago, but I conclude they went to Berlin, and you 
never had them. Forgive the intrusion, and look upon 
it merely as a means of conveying kindest greetings. 
— Yours ever, \ g^ 

266. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, March 19, 1892.] 

Dearest Friend, — Thank you most sincerely for 

your parcel of yesterday. How happy it must make 

you to distribute these beautiful, affecting pages 

among your friends !t What a host of questions 

* Thirteen Canons, Op. 113. 

t After her death Herzogenberg published Acht Klavierstuckc, by 
Ehsabet von Herzogenberg, dedicating each of the eight pieces to 
one or other of her friends, inckiding Frau Emma Engehnann- 
Brandes, Frau LiH Wach {nee Mendelssohn- Bartholdy), Frau Hed- 
wig von Holstein, Fraulein Helenc Hauptmann, Fraulein Johanna 
Rontgen, and Frau Clara Schumann. No. 6 was left without a 
dedication, while No. 7 was dedicated to Frau Luisc von Bezold- 
Engelmann by the composer before she died. 


they raise ! — the pieces in themselves and, for instance, 
the fact that I, for one, had no notion of their existence, 
although I had been told that one or other of your 
songs might be traced to your wife. 

I look through them in vain (particularly the Servian 
songs), but cannot make up my mind as to the claims of 
any one above the rest. 

It will, no doubt, have occurred to you to allow her 
friends to read extracts from her letters. I cherish 
those I have as, in the first place, one of the most 
precious memories of my life, and also for their in- 
trinsic qualities of wit and temperament. But their 
appeal is personal to me. How I should like to see 
how she wrote to and of other people ! 

My spring plans are very much in the background 
this year. My thoughts hover about Florence, Siena, 
Orvieto, without awaking the smallest excitement in 
response ; but if you were going too, I might rouse 

What do you propose for the summer ? Will your 
family keep you in Austria ? 

Well, no more to-day. — Sincerest thanks and kindest 

regards from yours, 


267. Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Rome, Piazza di Pietra, Palazzo Cini, 
March 12, 1892. 

My very dear Friend, — Peters did send your latest 
solo quartets* and canons to San Remo,t but at such a 
time ! You will, I know, forgive me for not reverting 

* Six quartets for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, with pianoforte 
accompaniment (Op. 112). 
t It was at San Remo that his wife died. 


to them. Now I have something to look forward to 
when I go back to Florence in a few weeks' time. In 
the end I did turn lonely and nervous, so came over 
to Rome about a week ago, where my sister-in-law's* 
family have very kindly taken me in. 

I just missed making Billroth's daughter's! acquaint- 
ance at Dr. Fleischl'sl the other day, but still hope to 
meet her and Frau Quidde, who was also present, 
sometime. It was a large, dark, crowded drawing- 
room, where I felt like a man in a dream. 

Simrock has just sent the trio and quintet,? so I 
will not write any more to-day, but will fall to on the 
music like a tiger. Thank you for keeping me so well 
in mind, you kind person ! — Yours, 


268. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Rome, Piazza di Pietra, Palazzo Cini, 
March 21, 1892. 

My very dear Friend, — To avoid 'dodging each 
other round and round ' (as in Leander's fairy-tales),|| 
I will give you my plans for next month. They are 
open to variation here and there, but not where other 
people's arrangements would suffer. 

The beginning of April will find me in Florence 
again, partly to see about the monument Hildebrand 

* Frau Henry Bennet-Brewster. 

t Fraulein Else Billroth, a talented amateur musician, pupil of 
Stockhausen, living in Vienna. 

X Otto von Fleischl, doctor in Rome. 

§ Clarinet trio, Op. 114, and clarinet quintet, Op. 115, composed at 
Ischl in the summer of 1891. 

II Trdumcreicn an franzcsische Kamincn, by Richard Leander 
(v, Volkman). 


is designing,* partly to meet the Fiedlers, who are 
coming there in the spring. I shall be there the 
greater part of May also ; go to Palanza, by way of 
San Remo, to see Frau Schumann at the end of the 
month, then higher up to Heiden,t to get my house 
arranged. There I remain until the autumn ; I shall 
probably winter in Berlin. 

How I should like to join you in your quiet ex- 
cursions in Tuscany ! Orvieto I don't know at all ; 
Siena and Valterra only from flying visits. Although 
the world seems but a dream to me, it is, after all, a 
lovely dream — as, for instance, yesterday at Tivoli. 

I am more glad than I can say that you approve of 
my publishing the piano pieces.^ It was more a 
labour of love than anything I ever did. I had to 
reproduce some of them from memory, which cost 
me some far from easy but very affecting hours. The 
only one among my songs that Lisl wrote is Op. 44, 
No. 7. I had intended editing some of hers, but gave 
it up when I saw how much I should have to do to 
them. Some day I will show you them. There is a 
good deal of temperament in some of them, and the 
harmonies are clever and ingenious at times. The 
piano pieces were much more finished. I did 
practically nothing to them. 

The two clarinet pieces are still growing on me. 
So far I fail to see why the quintet should be pre- 
ferred to the trio ; perhaps it was merely the fact of 

* Hildebrand's fine monument is carried out in early Renaissance 
style, and represents St. Cecilia (with the features of Frau von 
Herzogenberg) seated at the organ. 

t In the canton of Appenzell, on Lake Constance, where Herzogen- 
berg had built a house, Zum Abendrot. 

\ Cf. Letter 266, note. 


their appearing simultaneously that set everyone to 
work on these everlasting comparisons. I Hke them 
both equally much, and can imagine how splendidly 
the instruments must blend. It is so essentially j^ight^ 
too, that you should have assigned the clarinet an 
* antiphonal ' part. The effect must have justified you 

To-day the De Sanctis^ are giving us the F major 
Rasumofskyt by way of a novelty. They play it very 
decently, but, strange to say, with ever -increasing 
caution. Perhaps they are afraid to let themselves go. 

Farewell, and be as nice to me as ever ! I shall 

soon hear more of your plans, I suppose. — Always 



269. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, April 5, 1893.] 

Dear Friend, — I quite expect to be here still on the 
loth, but that is the latest, I think, as I am to meet 
some friends at Genoa for Sicily.J 

Let me know soon precisely when you are coming, 
and where you will stay, so that I and some others 

■* Probably a Roman quartet society. 

t Beethoven's quartet, Op. 59, No. i. — Tr. 

X This was Brahms's eighth and last Italian tour. He started on 
April 13, meeting his travelling companions, Josef Victor Widmann, 
of Berne, and Dr. Friedrich Hegar and the pianist Robert Freund, 
both of Zurich, at Milan, from whence they went to Genoa. The 
journey to Sicily was originally to have been made by boat, but 
Brahms did not care for long sea-journeys, and finally decided to go 
by train. On the way they stopped at Naples, Sorrento, Palermo, 
Girgenti, Catania, Syracuse, Taormina, Messina, Naples, and Venice. 
Brahms was back in Vienna on the loth {cf. Widmann, Johannes 
Brahms, p. 163). 


may look forward to it, and arrange for more pleasant 

But you must put Utrecht out of your mind while 
you are here; I heard such a pleasant account of your 
visit there from the Engelmanns. 

In any case, let me know soon. — With kindest 
regards, j ^^ 

270. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin, February 14, 1894. 

Dear Friend, — I wanted to write as soon as I heard 
of Billroth's death,* but never got it done. I want 
you to know how much I thought about you; up to 
this you can at most only have guessed. I know what 
Billroth was to you. It was his personality which 
dominated — peopled — your whole world, for one can 
put up with practically everybody, given the con- 
sciousness of one deep friendship. And now, what 
a gap ! Why not emigrate — to Berlin, where your 
banner is sturdily upheld by * Seven Righteous Men '?t 

I shall see Frau Schumann next Monday at Frank- 
furt, which I have a fancy to visit. They say she is 
very gay, and plays with all her former vigour and 
delight. God preserve this dear soul to us ! 

I have just seen Billow's death t in the paper. He 
had many warnings, and must have been prepared ; 
yet it came suddenly in the end, and in a strange 
country, which was hard on his poor wife ! Poor 
comet ! what will the orphaned comet's tail do without 

* Theodor Billroth died February 6, 1894, at Abbazia. 

t Title of one of Gottfried Keller's Ziiricher Novellen. The seven 
alluded to are probably Herzogenberg, Joachim, Hausmann, Spitta, 
Barth, Rudorff, and Adolf Schulze. 

I Hans von Biilow died at Cairo on February 12, 1894. 


its leader, who was, after all, a glorious compound of 
talent and strength of will ! He always put his whole 
heart and soul into everything; even if the aim was 
wrong, his motives were sincere. May he find rest ! 

I have at last purchased your glorious Klavierstucke* 
and ordered the entertaining fifty-one finger-torturers. t 
I am looking forward to hearing Frau Schumann play 
my favourites. She was singing their praises in the 
summer at Interlaken. This set of pieces is apparently 
easy, but we ordinary mortals find ourselves at a stand- 
still once we have passed the reading stage. I really 
felt as if I could play the glorious ballade | once or 
twice, and do wish I could. Indeed, I spend my days 
in silence now; if I did not keep up my old dull 
routine of work, the neighbours might easily take me 
for a painter or engraver, for all the noise I make. 

Shall you not pass through here as you did last 
year? Or at least through Heiden, where we shall 
settle down in the beginning of May ? My heart is 
open to you.— Yours, Herzogenberg. 

271. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, February 14, 1894.] 

Dear Friend, — The rest another time — particularly 
as you are just off on your travels ! This is merely to 
say that you need not buy my things ; as it is, I behave 
shabbily enough, considering the things you and Ritter 
shower upon me. Who is responsible this time I 
know not — Simrock is too good a man of business ! 

* Op. 118 and 119. 

+ Finger exercises, published in 1893 without opus number 
{cf. Letters 21, 77-79). 
X Op. 118, No. 3. 


Well, bon voyage^ and remember me most kindly to 
Frau Schumann. 

The supplementary and superfluous copies will 
come in nicely for one of your dear young ladies 
(Frauleins Radecke or Spitta ?) — Ever yours, 

J. Br. 

272. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Vienna, February 22, 1894.] 

Dear Friend, — I am again writing in haste merely 

to say that I was advised of the arrival of the first lot 

of my things which I sent to you at Florence, and 

have not had them returned through the dead letter 

office. So you see we are innocent. I am very glad 

that you should know it, and that you brought up the 

subject (in a shy, round-the-corner way). 

Am I really so uncommunicative that it should be 

news to you when I say that it is not friends like 

Billroth who keep me here in spite of everything, who 

lead me to spend the summer in Austria instead of 

going to Switzerland ; in spite of everything, I repeat, 

for I am frequently deeply conscious of all that I miss ?* 

— Kindest regards. Yours, 

J. Br. 

273. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Berlin W. 62, January 30, 1895. 
Dear Friend, — We neither of us like being senti- 
mental, but we must not sacrifice another deeper 
emotion on that account, and thus deprive ourselves 
of the few precious moments life may offer. So I will 

* Brahms was chiefly attracted to Austria and Vienna b}^ the 
scenery, the city itself, and the people. He was never able to feel 
so much at home anywhere else. 


make you a regular lover's declaration with regard to 
the two glorious flood-tide sonatas,* and say, as my 
wife was so fond of saying, God bless you ! They 
made me genuinely happy for a couple of days, and 
I almost felt again that life might be worth living. 

I am positively haunted by lovely, original, spring- 
like melodies, without knowing to what they lead. 
At present they charm me, but I am looking forward 
to knowing and possessing them soon. Don't wait 
too long and let the manuscript paper get cold ! You 
must know that we all want you. I most of all. 
Keep a little corner warm for me — * Tom's a-cold !'t 
— Yours, 


274. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[Ischl] August 8, 1895. 

Dear Friend, — I opened your parcel J this time with 
the greatest delight ; in the first place because I had 
heard from Engelmann that you were at Graz with 
some eye trouble, but now that I have this message 
sent from your home, and in your own welcome 
writing, I hope I need not worry. I then discovered 
with renewed delight that you had not forgotten 
Eichendorff — the little god of most of us in our youth — 
in the midst of your strenuous life. 

The songs (both music and words) are melancholy 
enough, certainly, but they sing the memory of such 
unforgettable charm and loveliness that one cannot 
feel sad or depressed. 

* Two sonatas for clarinet and piano, Op. 120. 
t King Lear, Act III., Scene iv. 

X Herzogenberg's Elegische Gesange (words by Eichendorff) for 
soprano, Op. 91. 


I should be glad of a few lines to say how you are, 
but an industrious man like you may always be said 
to have answered that question ! 

So good-bye. Kindest regards, and picture me 
happily engaged in leisurely appreciation. 

J. Brahms. 

275. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Heiden, August II, 1895. 

My very dear Friend, — I am delighted that my 
songs have procured me such a nice little letter. I 
should certainly have thought the oratorio,* by reason 
of its scope and treatment, more likely to arouse 
your comment, whether friendly, warm, frank, and 
encouraging, or the reverse. I confess I looked 
forward to it eagerly for a little time ; then came this 
confounded inflammation, and I had to close my eyes 
patiently and examine myself from inside. I assure 
you it is not pleasant to feel the world growing * drab 
as a dormouse ' around you. 

I should particularly enjoy having the clarinet 
sonatas to look at just now. If you should have 
thought of me with your usual kindness, the dear 
things may easily have stuck fast in Berlin. A hint 
from you, and they would fly hither. . . . 

I hope I shall be well enough this year to visit 
Frau Schumann at Interlaken. Won't you go too, 
and get in a flying visit to Heiden ? 

I will undertake to bring you to her, incognito, 
via Rapperswyl and Bruning. I could envy you your 

* Herzogenberg's Die Geburt Christi, Church oratorio for solos, 
mixed chorus, and children's voices, accompanied by harmonium, 
strings, oboe, congregational singing, and organ (Op. 90). 


* leisurely enjoyment.'* For myself, I still labour 

under the delusion that there is work for me to do. 

Pray for me ! — Yours sincerely, 


276. Brahms to Herzogenberg. 

[IscHL, June, 1896.] 

Dear Friend, — It is really a great pity that we hear 
so little of one another, but I can hardly expect to 
hear more when I am such a bad correspondent. 
However, I should like to have your summer address. 
I shall have a trifle to send soon, which may cause 
you to attack my unchristian principles in your new 
paper!! Other less compromising things, which are, 
however, not suitable for publication, I should very 
much like to have shown you at the piano.J 

But I suppose you will not be coming to Austria, 
not at least to Ischl ? 

In any case, your address, please. Kindest regards 
to yourself and dear companion. § — Yours, 

J. Brahms. 

* The tone of Brahms's letter (Letter 274) — in particular, perhaps 
the expression ' leisurely appreciation ' (Brahms wrote ' behaglichsien 
Geniessen' so indistinctly that Herzogenberg read * bchaglichen 
Genussen') — wounded Herzogenberg so deeply as to lead to a serious 
breach between the friends. It will be seen that there is an interval 
of ten months between this letter and the next. — Tr. 

t Vier Ernste Gesange, Op. 121. Brahms had some qualms about 
pubHshing these songs, on account of the not only undogmatic, but 
in part incredible, texts to which they were composed. The new 
paper referred to is probably the Monatsschrift fur Gotiesdienst und 
Kirchliche Kunst, edited by Dr. Friedrich Spitta and Dr. Julius Smend, 
assisted by Herzogenberg. 

I Probably the posthumous Choralvorspiele for organ. 

§ Helene Hauptmann, daughter of Moritz Hauptmann, and an old 
friend of the Herzogenbergs, had undertaken to look after Herzogen- 
berg and his house after his wife's death. 



277. Herzogenherg to Brahtns. 

Heiden, near Rorschach, Switzerland, 
July I, 1896. 

My very dear Friend, — And is it Sunday to-day, 
that anything so charming should happen to me? A 
nice, nice letter from you and the thrilling prospect of 
some heathenish music — music of any sort indeed ! 
Let me betray my hiding-place at once ! We have 
been here since the beginning of June, composing 
much useless stuff, being incited thereto by Mother 
Nature, who must be held responsible. 

The best way of sending music abroad is to label it 
* Business papers, registered.' This by the way. The 
best way of all, however, is to bring it oneself by 
train. We should be quiet here all through August ; 
why not come to Switzerland again ? Towards the 
end of September I shall be returning to Berlin via 
Graz. Should 1 find you still at Ischl ? I could easily 
arrange to go that much out of my way. Or should 
I find you in Vienna about September 29th ? 

As for my outburst of piety, let me remind you of 
the proverb : * He who has no faith must have emotions.' 
I believe nothing, but experience emotions in conse- 

Particularly to-day ! 

All kind messages from Helene,* as from myself. — 



* Helene Hauptmann. 


278. Herzogenberg to Brahms. 

Heiden, July 15, 1896. 

Dear Friend, — Best thanks for the Ernste Gesdnge. 
You are indeed fruitful in surprises ! Who but you 
ever conceived the idea of composing Bible words in 
this independent way, free from all the traditions of 
Church and liturgy I What will the singers make of 
it ? I can hear them singing in the drawing-room 
after dinner of those who * are yet able to receive meat,'* 
for stupidity knows no bounds ! But I ask myself 
seriously how they are to be classified. All music 
must be best suited to some occasion, after all. You 
may shrug your shoulders, and take your pleasure in 
advance at having created pieces of such glorious 
depth ; I too, in my admiration of your powers of 
technique and expression in No. 3 above all. How 
blissfully one lingers over that E major part ! Who 
would not hope to pass away to the sound of such 
rich, bittersweet, yearning harmonies. Then the 
beautiful B major melody in No. 4, and the whole of 
No. 2 ! vSome parts are not to be taken in so quickly, 
and that is just the best of it, for there will be new 
beauties cropping up everywhere. 

And so I may shrug my shoulders too, and leave it 
to my friends the parsons to settle down again after 
licking their lips in anticipation of a scandal. 

Well, and where am I to see you — at Heiden, Ischl, 
or in Vienna ? — As of old, yours very sincerely, 

H. Herzogenberg. 

* * O Death, how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man that 
liveth at rest in his possessions . . . yea, unto him that is yet able 
to receive meat' (Ecclcsiasticus xli. i). — Tr. 



279. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[IscHL, July 21, 1896.] 

I was uncommonly glad to hear that my * harvesters' 
revels'* met v^^ith your approval. I am afraid our 
meeting must be here or in Vienna, so please make 
inquiries before you start as to v^hether I am here 
or there. I should like to be able to look forv^ard to 
a couple of days with you. — Kindest regards, 


280. Brahms to Herzogenherg. 

[Karlsbad, September 15, 1896.] 

Dear Friend, — You will certainly not find me at 
Ischl. Just now I am here at Karlsbad, but have not 
succeeded in losing my touch of jaundice t so far. I 
hope to be in Vienna b}^ the 28th. You are sure to be 
stopping there in any case ? Otherwise I would write 
more definitely later. — Kindest regards. Yours, 


281. Herzogenherg to Brahms. 

Berlin W. 62, Kurfurstexdamm, 263, 
March 26, 1897. 

My very dear Friend, — I have two habits which 
refuse to be shaken off: one is, that I still compose; 

* The South German expression Sclinaderliupfe.ln is used to 
describe a Uvely song to which the harvesters dance at their festival. 
Brahms was fond of using it when alluding, either in speech or in 
WTiting, to his Vicr ernste Gesdiige, usually prefixing the adjective 
' godless.' 

t Brahms was taken ill at Ischl in June with jaundice, which 
proved to be a symptom of the more serious organic disease which 
eventually led to his death. The Karlsbad treatment did him more 
harm than good. 


the other, that I ask — just as I did thirty-four years 
ago — * What will He say to it ?' 

* He,' I may say, is you. It is true you have had 
nothing to say to it for some years past — a fact I am 
at liberty to explain in my own way. It has certainly 
not affected my devotion to you, to which I propose to 
give expression by another dedication,* for which I 
claim your indulgence. 

My thoughts are more than ever with you, now that 
I know you are ill. Let us hope spring will make 
a change of air possible. Even if the direct medicinal 
effect is not apparent, it refreshes and enlivens one 
mentally and physically, and no doctor will deny 
that that may lead to a cure.f — Your old friend and 

H. Herzogenberg. 

* Herzogenberg dedicated his second piano quartet, Op. 95, to 

t On the day when this letter was written, Brahms had gone to 
bed 'to rest a Httle.' He never got up again, but died on April 3. 
A letter to thank Herzogenberg for this dedication was dictated to 
Arthur Faber, but is, unfortunately, not now available. 


Abraham, Dr. M., 140, 185 
d' Albert, Kugen, 179, 323 n. 
Alexis, W., 47 n., 230 n. 
Allgeyer, J., 89 n., 99, 335, 34° 
Angerer, Dr., 333, 336-7 
Astor, B., xi, 3, 49, 52, 98,238, 240, 
313, 364, 397 

Bach, J. S., vi, viii, 1-2, 8, 17, 21, 
22 n., 33, 46, 48. 81, 83 n., 88, 94, 
121, 153-4, 182, 199,203, 20811., 
210, 222 n., 255, 316 n., 329 

Bargiel, W., 278 

Earth, H., 270, 278, 410 n. 

Earth, R., 202 

Baudissin, Grafin Klothilde An- 
nette. See Stockliausen, An- 
nette von 

Beethoven, L. von, 7, 31, 36, 38, 53, 
103, 124, 125 n., 126, 164, 195, 
198, 200, 207 n., 280, 284-5, 316 n., 

373 n-, 409 «• 

Bellini, G., 184 

Bennet - Brewster, Julie. See 
Stockhausen, Julie von 

Eernsdorf, E., 256 

Bettelheim, Karoline, 332 

Billroth, Else, 407 

Billroth, T., 54, 105 n., 124 n., 128, 
134 n., 166, 294 n., 319, 333, 335, 
338, 351, 410, 412 

Bismarck, Prince, 384 n. 

Bizet, G., 187 n., 360 

Bohme, F., 119 n. 

Bohine, F. M., 190 

Borodin, A., 176 

Bosendorfer, L., 270 

Brahms, Johannes, v, vi, viii-xi. 
Works : Pianoforte sonata 
(Op. 5), 194 n. ; Trio in B (Op. 8), 
381, 389-90, 398, 399-400 ; Seren- 
ades (Op. II and 16), 123, 204; 
Concerto in D minor (Op. 15), 
ix, 31, 35 n., 60, 148 n., 151, 204. 
279 n. ; Sextet in B flat (Op. 18), 

123, 295 ; Quartet in G minor 
(Op. 25), 123 ; Quartet in A 
(Op. 26), 116 ; Ivieder (Op. 32), 
359> 364 ; Magelo7ie-Ronianzen 
(Op. 33), 204; Pianoforte quintet 
in F minor (Op. 34), 116, 120; 
Sextet in G (Op. 36), 97, 123. 167, 
211, 387 ; Horn trio (Op. 40), 67 ; 
Darthulas Grabgesang (Op. 42), 
314 n. ; Von eztngei' Liebe (Op. 43), 
60 ; Mainacht (Op. 43), 60 ; Ger- 
man Requiem (Op. 45), ix, 11 1-2, 
120, 122, 154, 15641., 211 ; Lieder 
(Op. 46-47-49), 215, 216; 
Rinaldo (Op. 50), ix, 97, 123, 
194 n.; Quartets (Op. 51), 184; 
Liebeslieder (Oy>- 52), ix, 60; Alt- 
Rhapsodie [O'p.^:^), ix, 103, i94n.; 
Song of Destiny (Op. 54), 97, 
224, 279 n. ; Triumphlied (Op. 55), 
122, 314 n. ; Haydn variations 
(Op. 56), ix, 9 n. ; 96 n., 144, 
148 n., 323 n. ; Unbewegte laue 
Luft (Op. 57, No. 8), 34 ; Regen- 
lied{0]i. 59), 183, 298 n. ; Quartet 
in C minor (Op. 60), 9 n., 31, 34, 
67 ; Duette (Op. 61), 39 n. ; 
Lieder u. Gesange (Op. 63), 63 n. ; 
Quartet in B flat (Op. 67), 50, 
242; vSymphony in C minor 
(Op. 68), 9, 10, 14, 15, 37, 38, 45, 
72, 74, 146, 148 n., 150, 152, 184; 
Lieder n. Gesange (Op. 69-72), 
17 n., 18-24, 27 n. ; Sj^mphony 
in D (Op. 73), 25-32, 35, 36, 38-40, 
43, 46, 49, 53, 55 ; Motet Warum? 
(Op. 74), 59, 61. 62,65, 103, 196 n. ; 
Balladen 21. Ro^nanzen (Op. 75), 
37 n., 41-44, 47-48; Klavierstiicke 
(Op. 76), 64 n., 68-71, 73, 80, 104; 
Violin concerto (Op. 77), 66 n., 
72, 74, 75. 77. 85, 95, 96-7, loi n. ; 
113, 114 n. ; T16, 127, 256, 281 u., 
283, 314 n. ; Violin sonata in G, 
(Op. 78), 88-90, 96, 103, 192 n., 




359» 364^ 404; Rhapsodies(Op. 79), 
94-9, 102, 104, 105, 106-8, 109, 
147 n. ; ' Academic ' overture 
(Op. 80), III n.. 113, 114-5, 144; 
' Tragic ' overture (Op. 8i),iiin., 
1 15 n., 144; Nanie (Op. 82), 138, 
139-40, 141, 142-4; Concerto in B 
flat(Op. 83), 134, 141, 142 n., 143 »•> 
I44> 147 n., 148 n., 176, 179 n., 
191, 209 n., 323 u. ; Romanzen u. 
Lieder (Op. 84-5-6, 88), 156-8, 
159, 160-1, 163-5, 178,276; Trio 
in C (Op. 8), in; Quintet in F 
(Op. 88), 167-173, 175,204, 241 n., 
265. 386, 387 ; Song of the Fates 
(Op. 89), 177-8, 180, 192 n. ; Sym- 
phony in F (Op. 90) , 180 n.» 183, 
186, 1S8, 190, 192, 194 n., 200, 
323 n. ; Alto songs (Op. 91), 207, 
213,218; O schd7ieNacht\0^. 92, 
No. I), 25 n., 31 n., 33-4, 174 n. ; 
Liedei' n. Romanzen (Op. 93«), 
186-8; Tafellied {O-^. 93^), 222; 
Lieder (Op. 94), 234 u. ; Lieder 
(Op. 95-6-7), 217, 225, 226-35, 241, 
248; Symphony in K minor 
(Op. 98), 207, 236, 238, 239, 240- 
^9' 275-9, 281-2, 285-6, 294 n., 
296; 'Cello sonata in F (Op. 99), 
288-90, 313 ; Violin sonata in A 
(Op. 100), 294 n., 297-8, 301, 302-4, 
313 ; Trio in C minor (Op. loi), 
297-3051 307» 312, 314 n. ; Double 
concerto (Op. 102), 315 n., 320 n., 
321, 323 n., 324, 343 ; Zigeuner- 
heder (Op. 103), 326 n., 335, 338, 
342 n., 349, 358, 364 ; Funf 
Gesdnge a capelLa (Op. 104), 
301 n., 308, 312, 344, 352-4; 
Lieder u. Gesdnge (Op. 105-6-7), 
225, 291, 293, 298, 352-9, 368; 
Violin sonata in D minor (Op. 
108), 351, 360.3, 364, 365-8, 375; 
Motets (Op. no), 377, 378-80; 
Quintet in G (Op. in), 386-9, 
390, 391,392-6; Seeks Quartette 
(Op. 112), 406; Canons (Op. 113), 
398, 405, 406; Clarinet trio 
(Op. 114), 407-8; Clarinet 
quintet (Op. 115), 407-8; Klavier- 
stileke{Op. 118-9), 41 1; Clarinet 
sonatas (Op. 120), 413, 414; yier 
ernste Gesdnge (Op. 121), 109, 
415 n., 416, 417, 418; Choralvor- 
spiele (posth.), 415; Canon, 
' Wan7i hort der Himinel,^ 117 n.; 
Canon, ' Mir Idchelt kein Friih- 
ling,'' 119, 120, 129; * (9 Trau- 

rigkeit, O Herzeleid,^ 52 - 3 ; 
Klavierilbungeji, 113, 114, 411; 
Presto afitr Bach, 17, 21 ; Volks- 
lieder, 86, 91 ; Hungarian 
Dances, 105, 108-9; Instrumen- 
tation of Schubert songs, 192 n. 
Breitkopf and Hartel, 10, 24, 25, 

77, 153, 214 
Brendel, F., 176 n. 
Breslaur, K., 205 n. 
Brodsky, Dr. A., 178, 185, 192 n., 

212-3, 252, 281 n., 314 n. 
Bruckner, A., 214, 215-6, 219, 220, 

221, 224, 255, 283 
Briill, I., 140, 244 n. 
Bulow, Hans von, 96 n., 124, 125-6, 

141, 142 n., 148-52, 194 n., 209 n., 

236 n. 238 n., 252, 309 n., 310 n., 

351 n-»353, 410-11 
Busch, M., 177 
Butlis,J., 14-15 

Cellini, Benvenuto, 282 
Cherubini, L., 123, 222 n. 
Chopin, F., vii, 24, 26, 28, 30, 76, 

Cbrysander, F., 2, 72 n., 118, 131, 
195-7, 199-200, 308, 309, 384, 386 
Conrat, H., 338 n. 
Czerny, Carl, 214 n., 225 

Daumer, G. F., 34, 226 
Delibes, Leo, 360 
Dessoff, O., v, vi, 162 
Dietrich, C. W. K., 164 
Dirzka, vii 
Donner, J. J. K., 222 
Door, A., 198 
Draseke, F., 176 
Dvorak, Anton, 181, 255 

Ehlert, L., 103-4, 140 
EichendorfF, J. Freiherr von, 413 
Engelmann, Emma, 26, 27, 29, 40, 
41, 67, 71, 104, 109, 113, 114, 115, 
116, 125, 150, 307, 324, 405 n. 
Engelmann, T. W., 26 u., 38, 44, 
71, 72, 73, 76, loi, 104, 105, 106, 
109, 113, 115, 116, 150, 176, 191, 
Engelmann, W., 27, 48, 67, 73, 76 
Epstein, J., vii, viii, 28, 137, 155, 
156, 158, 185, 198, 208, 272, 320, 

325. 338, 339, 372, 405 
Erk, L., 86 n. 
Exner, A., 124 u., 393 n. 
Eyck, Jan van, 312 



Faber, Arthur, 4 n., 8, 16, 46, 54 n., 
56, 58 n., 93, 173, 185, 208, 338, 
372, 382, 419 n. 

Faber, Bertha, xi, 4, 5, 8, 16/ 46, 
58 n., 93, 173, 338, 372, 382 

Feuerbach, A., 138 n,, 155, 335-6 

Feuerbach, Henriette, 139 n. 

Fiedler, Dr., 330, 340, 408 

Fillunger, Marie, 24, 68, iii, 324 

Fleischl, O. von, 407 

Flemming, Paul, 357 

Frank, E., 54 n. 

Franz, Anna, 236, 237, 240, 326, 

327. 332, 351, 372, 382 
Franz, Dr., 54 n. 
Franz, Fllen. See Heldburg, 

Freifrau von 
Franz, Robert, 2 n.. 210 
Frappart, h., 36 
Frederick II., the Great, 308 n. 
Frederick III., German Emperor, 

Frege, I^ivia, 10 
Freund, Robert, 409 n. 
Friedmann, A., 195 n. 
Frisch, Marie, 393 n. 
Fritsch, Henriette, 320 n. 
Fritzch, E. W., 119, 120, 128, 129, 

147 n., 205, 207, 208, 209, 224, 

256 n., 257, 279, 283, 308, 309, 


Gallmeyer, Josephine, 289 

Gast, Peter, 371 n. 

George II., Duke of Saxe-Mein- 

ingen, 201 n., 236, 237 
Giusti, G., 166 n. 
Gluck, Christoph, 350 
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 

(quotations), 239, 243 n., 296, 

353-4,' 356, 361, 368 
Goldmark, Karl, 12, 21,28, 54 n., 

56 n. 
Goltermann, J., 26 n. 
Gomperz, J. von, 332 n. 
Gomperz, Karoline von. See 

Bettelheim, Karoline 
Gomperz, T., 326, 332, 342 
Gouvy, L., 216-7 
Grieg, Edvard, 72, 184, 303 n. 
Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm, 47, 

Grosser, J., 268 

Groth, Klaus, 291 n., 298, 344, 358 
Gumprecht, O., 279 

Hamerling, R., 315 n., 316, 319 
Handel, G. F., 114, 131, 210 

Hanslick, E., 82 n., 147, 195 n., 
206, 244 n., 310, 331 

Hartel, R., 10, 13, 14 

Hartenthal, Mathilde von, 11, 13, 
17-18, 37 

Hartmann, Bertha, 296, 3x9 n. 

Hartmann, M,, 296 

Hauptmann, M., 84 n., 292 n., 
415 n. 

Hauptmann, Helene, xi, 415, 416 

Hausmann, R., 261, 268, 287, 288, 
289, 290, 296, 302, 307, 321, 323, 
395, 399> 410 n. 

Heckmann, R., 50, 209, 211 

Hegar, Dr. F., 409 n. 

Hegyesi, L., 314 n. 

Heine, Heinrich, 109, 228 n. 

Heldburg, Helene, Freifrau von, 
236 n., 258 

Henschel, G., 2 

Hensel, W., 200 n. 

Hertz, W., 34: 

Herzogenberg, A. P. Freiherr 
von, V 

Herzogenberg, Elisabet von, v, 

Herzogenberg, Heinrich, Freiherr 
von, v-xi. Works : Variations 
on a Theme bj^ Brahms (Op. 
23), I, 3, 4, 6.7; Lieder und 
Romanzen (Op. 26), 382 n. ; 
String Trios (Op. 27), 80, 91, 93, 
172, 274, 294; Twelve Sacred 
Volkslieder (Op. 28), 80, 86-87, 
91, 93, no; Psalm cxvi. (Op. 34), 
166, 174; PianoforteTrio(Op.36), 
198; Duets (Op. 38), 186; Four 
Songs (Op. 40), 213 n. ; Three 
String Quartets (Op. 42), 50, 53, 
188, 193-5, 209, 211, 274, 294, 
382 ; Lieder (Op. 44), 408 ; Ser- 
bische Madchenlieder (Op. 45), 
406 ; Symphony in C minor 
(Op. 50), 238, 240, 274; Violon- 
cello sonata (Op. 52), 287, 307 ; 
Waltzes, pianoforte duet (Op. 
53), 382 n. ; Stern des Lieds, 
ode for chorus and orchestra 

lOp- 55). 3T-3, 315-6, 319 ; ii^eike 
der Nacht, alto, chorus, and 
orchestra (Op. 56), 313, 315-6. 
322 ; Six Songs for Mixed 
Chorus (Op. 57), 302, 305-6, 307, 
308; Psalm xciv. (Op. 60), 319, 
375 ; Legenden, pianoforte and 
viola (Op. 62), 377 n. ; Sym- 
phony in B (Op. 70), 238 n., 294; 
Konigspsalm (Op. 71), 397, 



399 ; Requiem {Op. 72), 396, 
397 n., 398-9; TotenfeierQ.2LrvX.2X2i 
(Op. 80), X ; Die Geburi Chrisii, 
oratorio (Op. 90), x, 414; Ele- 
gische Gesdnge (Op. 91-105), 
413; 'Die Passion,' oratorio 
(Op. 93), X ; Pianoforte Quartet 
(Op. 95), 419 n.; Motets (Op. 103), 
61 ; Erntefeier, oratorio (Op. 
104), X 

Heyse, P., 309 

Hildebrand, A., 64, 210, 215, 236 n,, 
375, 404, 407-8 

Hiller, F., 138, 139, 198 n. 

Hoffmann, E. T. A., 237 n. 

Holderlin, F., 221, 222 

Hollander, A., 314 n. 

Holsteiu, F. von, viii, i, 45, 

Holstem, Hedwig von, 57, 58, 151. 
405 n. 

Holty, L., 373 "• 

Hubay, J., 381 n. 

Hummer, R,, 3S1 n. 

Jhering, R. von, 393 n. 
Joachim, Amalie, 292, 293 
Joachim, Dr. Josef, 24, 58 n., 72, 
74> 75, 77, 90 n., 95 n., 96 n., 
Ill n., 113, 114, 183, 185 u., 
189, 219, 255, 256, 259, 261 n., 
265, 267, 268, 269, , 275-6, 278, 
279, 283, 287, 290, 292 n., 295, 
297 n., 298, 302, 304, 313, 320 n., 
321, 322, 323 n., 343 n., 367, 372, 
377, 390, 391-2, 393- 394. 4^0 n. 

Kahn, R., 385 
Kaiserfeld, M. von, 241 
Kalbeck, Max, 13 n., 35 u., 109 n., 

19a n., 314 n., 319 n., 381 n. 
Keller, Fides, 88, 90-1, 93 
Keller, Gottfried, 309, 341 n., 393, 

410 n. 
Kiel, F., 203, 223, 385 n. 
Kipke, K., 48 
Kirchner, T., 45, 52, 80-1, 83, 92, 

126-7, 132, 152, 175, 310 n. 
Klengel, Julius, 218 n., 224 
Klengel, P., 218 
Klindworth, K., 267 
Koopmann, 184 n. 
Koselitz, H. See Gast, Peter 
Kupfer, W,, 224 n. 

Labor, J., 373 
Lachner, V., 385 n. 

Leander, R. See Volkmann R. 

Lemcke, K., 34, 356 
Levi, Hermann, 330, 340 
Leyen, R. von der, 201 n. 
Limburger, Consul, 30, 67, 71, 72, 

74, 75, 142, 180, 181, 182, 191, 

204, 211, 236 
Lingg, H., 193 n. 
Lipsius, Marie (La Mara), 214 n., 

Liszt, Franz, 138-9, 141, 177, 179 n., 

218 n., 305 
Loewe, K., 24 
Luther, Martin, 182 

Macfarren, Mrs., 119, 120 
Mackenzie, Miss, 117, 119 n. 
Mair, Amanda, 48-9 
Makart, H., 289 
Mandyczewski, E., xi, 214 n.. 289, 

297 n., 402 
Mannstadt, F., 267 
Marie, Princess, of Meiningen, 

Marxen, E., 80 n. 
Meinardus, L., 182 
Mendelssohn - Bartholdy, Felix, 

ion., 109, 139, 149, 200-1 
Miller, V. von, 310 n. 
Morhange, C. H. B. (Alkan), 30 
Mosenthal, S. H., 91 
Mozart, W. A., 123, 255, 286 
Muff at, G., 187, 189 
Muhlfeld, R., 153 n. 

Naumann, E., 33, 117 n. 
Nietzsche, F., 369, 370-3 
Nikisch, Arthur, 177, 214 n. 
Nottebohm, G., 7, 53, 81, 82 
Novacek, O., 212-3 

Oberhofer, Dr.,. 58 
Oertel, Dr., 258 

Perlthaler, Karoline, 67 n. 
Peters, C. F., 8, 114 n., 140 n., 

185 n., 405, 406 
Petri, Henri, 185 
Platen, August, Graf, 359, 364 
Pohl, K. P\, 297 n. 
Pohl. R., 64 n. 
Popper, David, 381 n. 
Porubszky, Dr. G., 4, 5 
Prohaska, K., 390 
Priiwer, J., 270-3 



Radecke, R., 94, 267 

Raff. J., 180 

Raimund, F., 116, 395 u. 

Reinecke, Karl, 15, 32, 97 n. 

Reintbaler, K., 38, 154-5 

Reni, Guido, 363 n. 

Reuss, Henry XXVI., Prince of, 

150, 189, 191 
Rheinberger, J., 385 n. 
Richter, E. F., 84 
Richter, Dr. Hans, 253 n. 
Riedel, K., 176,397 
Riemann, Hugo, 353 
Rieter-Biedermann (Firm), i n., 2, 

3 n., 8, 72 n., 313 n., 315 u., 

364 n., 376 
Rieter-Biedermann, J. M., 3 n., 8 
Rimsky-Korsakoff, N., 176 n. 
Rochlitz, F., 255 n. 
Rodenberg, J., 103 n. 
Roder, C. G., 20, 114 
Rontgen, Amanda, 1 16, 132, 349, 

351. 357, 360-3, 367, 375 
Rontgen, E., 84, 132, 167, 175, 324 
Rontgen, Johanna, 132, 167, 175, 

201, 278-80 
Rontgen, Julius, 16, 40, 44, 45, 46, 

47, 116, 132, 139, J40, 170, 191, 

Rontgen, Lina, 204 
Rose, Arnold, 381 n., 393 n. 
Rubinstein, Anton, 46, 1 18, 268-9, 

273, 274-5 
Rudorff, E., 270-1, 375, 410 n. 
Rust, F. W., 125 

Santen-Kolff, J. van, 209 
Santiui, Abbate, 214 n. 
vScarlatti, D., 214, 217, 218, 225 
Schaeffer, J., 2 

Schiller, Friedrich, 207 n., 221 
Schmid, Dr. A., 349, 350, 374 
Schmitt, Hans, 270, 272 
Scholz, Dr. Bernhard, 14 n. 
Schubert, Franz, 164, 192 n., 207 n., 
214, 242, 267, 280, 282, 284, 285, 


Schulze, A., 401, 402, 410 n. 

Schumann, Clara, ix, 8, 10, 11, 
18, 19, 2T, 22, 23, 24, 29, 39-40, 
42, 43, 46, 49, 55-56, 63, 67, 85, 
86, 87, III n., 112, 131-2, 134, 
158, 161-2, 210, 237, 240, 241, 
243 n., 247, 259, 267-8, 269, 301, 
314, 351, 364, 366-7, 369, 370, 372, 
373, 374-6, 405 n., 408, 410, 411, 
412, 414 

Schumann, Eugenie, 63, iii 

Schumann, Felix, 63 
Schumann, Marie, 63 
Schumann, Robert, 7, 10 n., 23, 

67 n., 81, loi n., 103, III, 132, 

139, 149, 274, 286-8, 289, 297, 

298, 306, 331 
Schiitz, Heinrich, 400-1 
Schwab, C. T., 222 
Schwencke, F. G., 382 n. 
Seeburg, Elisabet, 58 
Senff, B., 17 n. 
Shakespeare, W., 413 n. 
Sillem, J. A., 38, 184 n. 
Simrock, P., 3, 29, 49, 98, 187, 209, 

310, 411 
Simrock, N. (Firm), 9, 19, 38, 59, 

80, 86, 176, 379, 407 
Smyth, Ethel, 59, 60, 67, 70, 71, 

83, 85, 122, 124, 128, 150, 152, 

154, 159, 160, 161, 185 
Sophocles, 221 
Spengel, J., 315* 383, 384 
Spies, Hermine, 192 n., 194 n., 

291, 292, 293-4, 295, 310, 312, 

Spitta, P., viii, i, 2, 28, 196, 200, 

217 n., 248, 283, 302, 389, 399, 

400, 401, 410 n. 
Spitteler, K., 347, 348-9 
Stahr, A., 54 
Stauffer-Bern, K., 341 
Stockhausen, Annette von, vii, 

59, 60, 130, 133, 135, 145, 166, 

254, 311, 321, 404 
Stockhausen, Bodo A. Freiherr 
von, vii, 24, 26, 30, 147, 254, 

Stockhausen, Ernst von, 25, 26, 

30, 50, 55. 76, 79, i5o» 152, 154. 
Stockhausen, Julie von, vii, viii, 

60, 97, 99, 244, 340, 407 
Stockhausen, Julius, 26, 158, 161 -2 
Strauss, Eduard, 224 

Taaffe, Graf Eduard, 181 
Taubert, W., 266 
Tchaikovskv, P., 255 
Thieriot, F.,''8o, 87 
Thomson, Cesar, 278 

Vesque von Puttlingen, Helene, 

Baronin, 57 n. 
Vogel, B., 147 
Vogel, M., 176 
Volkland, A., viii, i, 2, 78, 322, 

Volkmann, R. von (Leander), 407 



Wach, Dr. A., xi, 150, 152, 2S1, 

Wach, Ivili, 150, 152, 200-1, 281, 

340, 405 n. 
Wagner, L. von, 241 n. 
Wagner, Richard, vi, 3 n., 38-40, 

42, 49, 66, 118, 131, 159, 176, 

181 n., 182, 221, 256, 330, 331-2, 

Wehner, A., 7-8, 9 
Wendt, G.. 221 n. 
Werzer, Frau, 65 
Westphal, R., 353 

Grafin, 280, 282, 333 
Widmann, J. V., 343, 347, 409 n. 

Wildenbruch, E. von, 301 
Wilhelm I., German Kmperor, 

333, 341 
Wilt, Marie, 66 
Wolf, J., 217, 266 
Wolff, Hermann, 181 
Wolff, U, 202 
Wiillner, F., i n., 38, 39, 40, 41, 

177, 183, 314 n., 322 n. 

Ziemssen, H. W. von, 318 
Zimmermann, Agnes, 117 
Zollner, H., 331 
Zoltan, Nagy, 338 n. 
Zopff, H., 176